By Michael McCutcheon
WOODLAND, CA – After being convicted of stealing a cell phone, a man was sentenced here in Yolo County Superior Court to one year of probation and 80 hours of community service—eight months later, probation is making it difficult for the man to find a job, according to his legal counsel.
The judge’s ruling this week didn’t make matters any easier.
Attorney Gilbert Vega told the court Tuesday his client completed his community service and remains in good standing with probation, yet he is still unable to get a job due to many employment stipulations against hiring individuals on probation.
Vega filed a motion to reduce the man’s probation, noting the aforementioned difficulties with employment and financial strain, but the court ultimately rejected the plea and the convicted man remains unemployed.
The man, according to the court, was originally charged with a felony in February 2022 after he was caught with a stolen cell phone in a casino. While he initially stated that he was going to turn it in as lost property, he had removed the SIM card and turned the phone off, resulting in his arrest.
The man accepted a plea deal in July which reduced his felony charge to misdemeanor appropriation of lost property and he was ultimately sentenced to the one year of probation and 80 hours of community service.
For the following five months, the man’s attorney said his client kept his record clean, staying within the terms of his probation and not picking up any new charges. By the time of his probation review in December, he had already completed all 80 hours of his community service and was looking like a success story for the court system, the attorney said.
Defense Attorney Vega argued his client had been unable to find a job due to the probation terms, which was causing “severe financial strain.” He noted his client had previously worked as a driver for both Lyft and Uber, both of whom have prohibitions against maintaining employment for those on probation.
Deputy District Attorney Jasmine McLeod argued the prosecution was already lenient, reducing the felony to a misdemeanor after plea bargaining.
Defense Attorney Vega responded, “This is why California law does allow these exceptions in early termination under the interest of justice. This is not simply that he doesn’t want to have the reputational impact, or any other type of superficial consequence, it is because of the severe financial strain it has placed on him.”
Judge Thomas Smith ultimately rejected the motion to terminate probation and the man will remain on probation—and maybe unemployed—until July.