COURT WATCH: Judge Rules in Favor of Accused in Alleged Probation Violation, Questioning Prosecution’s Evidence

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA  – An accused man here in Yolo County Superior Court Monday contested an alleged violation of his parole because of a lack of clear evidence presented by the prosecution, and inconsistencies of a police officer’s testimony—the court later ruled in the accused’s favor.

On the night of the incident, the accused was allegedly seen in the same general area as someone who had a restraining order against him. The officer admitted he had to use a flashlight to confirm that it was in fact the accused.

According to the defense attorney, Richard Van Zandt, the accused “did not willingly or knowingly violate any parole condition.”

The judge overseeing this case was Sonia Cortés and the Deputy District Attorney was David Robbins. The DDA was supervising an intern, Stephanie Decilles.

The defense also argued the officer testimony was not credible, citing two video clips submitted as evidence that appeared to have major inconsistencies in what happened during the night of the incident.

Officer Sergio Jacobo of the Woodland Police Department testified the accused referred to the person who was protected from the alleged restraining order by name. However, nowhere in the video does it show the accused admitted to being near the person at any point in time.

It was also noted by the defense the officer’s observation skills weren’t quite accurate during the incident because he did not notice a bicyclist at the scene.

At the same time, when the accused was ordered to be in the presence of police, he was not willingly in the presence of the “victim,” according to the testimony.

Defense Attorney Van Zandt stated the prosecution began with enough evidence to continue with the case but didn’t ponder the evidence deep enough.

“This case started off as the officers thinking there was a valid restraining order when that restraining order had dissolved and then parole filed a violation, (and) of course parole wasn’t there,” said the defense attorney.

It was revealed during the hearing the officer was allegedly in the area because there was a call from the victim’s mother that the “victim” might be with the accused.

Officer Jacobo stated he checked and knew that the accused was not supposed to be near the victim as part of his parole and knew that both the victim and the accused were near the same area.

According to the intern under the DDA’s supervision, there is an expressed condition that the accused is not allowed to be in contact with the victim or be in her area unnecessarily, and argued the accused was in the area unnecessarily.

As to Jacobo’s statements, he testified he was speaking with the accused and referred to the victim as her regardless of whether or not a name was stated. The defense noted the use of pronouns could be used to reference someone else, not just the “victim.”

The judge ruled in favor of the accused, noting “the burden is on the People to prove that a violation of parole had occurred. Based on the evidence, the People had not met the burden to establish that there had been a violation. There’s no evidence presented that shows that [the accused] knowingly violated the terms of his parole.”

Judge Cortés added the court was concerned with inconsistencies in the officer’s testimony about the police report and body cam footage provided as evidence.

The accused will be reinstated on parole on the same terms and conditions as before and was released from custody.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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