Romero Motion (Strike Struck) Granted, Allows Man to Avoid Prison if Probation Followed

By Audrey Sawyer

VENTURA, CA — A man who pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm has some success—his Romero motion to remove a prior strike conviction so it won’t be used as a sentencing enhancement was granted—but his fate on the length of a possible jail sentence remains undecided although the Ventura County Superior Court judge said he could avoid prison altogether.

There was an admitted strike allegation associated with the charge, and at the time of plea, the accused agreed to a maximum sentence of 32 months. The request for a Romero motion, which was denied previously, was reconsidered and finally granted this week.

Senior Deputy Public Defender Rebekah Mathis asked the court to consider striking the strike, noting the offense is approaching almost two years since the original occurrence, and since the offense, her client has no arrests made against him, no citation, and no police contact.

Mathis argued the accused has completely cut all contact and relationships with individuals that he was previously associating with, that he is living with his parents who are very supportive of him, and that he now has found consistent and stable employment.

The accused, the PD said, began working part time, which eventually transitioned into a full-time position in September 2021. The accused has been communicative with his employer on the charges that he is facing, and his job is willing to keep him as an employee. Despite this, the accused had submitted his two weeks notice a few days ago because of his anticipation of having to go into custody.

Mathis reminded the court once again that the accused has cut off all contact with those he associated with in the past, arguing, “He is only 22 years old and this event changed his life substantially. He has turned his life around. Given the amount of time that has passed, the positive progress made in his life, he is now a very valuable member to society. He has done exactly what someone in his situation should do.”

Mathis references complete compliance from the accused. “He is asking that they reconsider the strike. He has signed up for 32 months, he is prepared to remand, and he hopes the court will consider modifying the order. He is willing to take the high term on the particular offense, and going to prison at this point will do nothing but put him further behind. He is willing to turn himself in.

“If the court gives him any consideration in the matter (via striking the strike, probation), he will report as often as desired, and willing to comply with any term, even agreeing to electronic monitoring.”

The prosecution refused to budge on the 32-month sentence.

Judge Patricia M. Murphy agreed the case was the type to see it in the interest of justice to grant probation, noting, “Weighing all the factors, I find it compelling that there has been a significant amount of time that has passed since the crime. He does have a significant criminal history as a young person, this charge in particular is serious.”

She pointed out that this is the accused’s third felony conviction at age 22, but that while he is 22, he has not been sentenced to state prison, adding that if the accused is in agreement, the high term for the offense will be provided, and he will be allowed to be on probation. Without the strike, the high term is three years.

Murphy continued that while the period of three years is more than what the accused agreed to, she is offering him a chance. “I expect you to do everything right. If you agree, you are a sentenced state prisoner, but you do not have to go to prison today. You may never have to go if you comply with terms of probation.”

The Romero motion was granted, so the accused’s strike was stricken, and the court will come back to settle his probation terms. The stipulated sentence is three years (high term), with referring the matter to probation for terms.

Before leaving, Murphy advised the accused that she has not yet made any commitment regarding a jail sentence, that if he needs to contact his employer to do it ahead of time. While she mentioned not making any decisions today, she reminded him of the looming possibility.

The next court date is April 19 for further sentencing.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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