COURT WATCH: Prosecutor Labels Homeless Accused as ‘Nuisance’ in Attempt to Get Him Extraordinary Jail Sentence – Judge Disagrees

By Hailey Cairns and Jonathan Lewis

WOODLAND, CA – Deputy District Attorney Preston Schaub accused a homeless man of being a “nuisance” and “burden to the community” last Friday during a sentencing hearing here in Yolo County Superior Court in an apparent attempt to convince Judge Tom Dyer to issue an abnormally severe sentence.

Judge Dyer didn’t bite, sentencing the man to probation as long as he abides by court’s conditions.

The accused had pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance earlier this month, and DDA Schaub tried to use the accused’s prior convictions and status as homeless to persuade the court to issue an unusual sentence.

“He is not very consistent with registering with his 290 [sex offender] status,” DDA Schaub said. “He continues to be essentially a nuisance for the Woodland Community and the Woodland Police Department.”

After Judge Dyer asked DDA Schaub to clarify his definition of a “nuisance,” he described the man’s history of not conforming with his registration requirement.

“Any time he fails to register, there are usually efforts to try to locate him and get him compliant. They [the Homeless Outreach Team for Woodland Police] are constantly looking for him and trying to track him down to see if he’s in compliance with registration. It’s just a burden when this individual doesn’t take those responsibilities seriously.”

DDA Schaub added to his “burden to the community” description by noting, “The welfare checks, the law enforcement contacts, the constant possession of methamphetamine on his person that requires officers to arrest is just a resource and a time suck for the community.”

DDA Schaub continued, suggesting the accused needs structure to ensure he is registering and does not continue using drugs, stating that he is requesting the harsh sentence “because we have exhausted all other options as far as treatment and remedies. He’s not taking advantage of any of that.”

After telling the court the accused “should be essentially sentenced to as much jail time as your Honor [Judge Dyer] is willing to do,” Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtayan spoke, stating,

“If I knew this was going to be brought up in terms of his failure to register, I would have actually submitted a report that we had prepared by a psychologist.”

Davtayan added, “We were able to have a doctor evaluate him and she said that he has a lot of deficiencies and short-term memory and that is a very big cause of why he oftentimes forgets to register.”

PD Davtayan highlighted the struggles his client faces as a transient, stating, “Right now he’s on the streets, again a target from other people. He’s regularly being harassed, assaulted, and the suggestion that he is somehow a nuisance to the community is just frankly not true. He has an addiction and that’s sad, but he’s also had a very sad life.”

PD Davtayan also said jail time is not in his client’s benefit, arguing the mental health effects his client would suffer are not justifiable for the crime of addiction especially since his client “just minds his own business. He doesn’t assault anyone, he doesn’t argue with anybody, he doesn’t get in any fights.”

PD Davtayan refuted DDA Schaub’s recommendation that his client should get an abnormal sentence and said that he should be treated like everyone else being sentenced for this crime.

“As far as I can tell, no one who comes in on any of these 11377’s [possession of a controlled substance] gets any jail time. My recommended sentence is a year of informal probation and search and test terms which is what everyone else gets.”

Judge Dyer sentenced the accused to only one year of summary probation if he is searchable and testing for controlled substances, complies with registration, does not violate probation, and does not break any laws. If the accused does not follow those requirements, he will serve 45 days in jail.

About The Author

Jonathan is a second year student at UC Davis majoring in Managerial Economics and minoring in Political Science and History.

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