COURT WATCH: Man to Spend More Time in County Jail as ‘Wake-Up Call’ After Tracking Device Battery Dies

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By Citlalli Florez

MODESTO, CA – The prosecution here in Stanislaus County Superior Court proposed having the accused spend 180 days in jail for having his ankle tracking device when the charge died – in the end, the judge took some pity and only sent the accused to jail for 120 days.

Deputy District Attorney Ney Montenegro asked the judge for the court to take notice that the accused was convicted of his pleas and placed on the sex-offender registration. He received a sentence of two years. A hearing device was given to the accused as he is hard of hearing.

A witness was called to the stand; Agent Michael Hobbs works in the division of adult parole operations. He is a parole agent and works to verify conditions of parole. He is the accused’s parole supervisor.

The Agent does not recall the initial meeting or whether he made the initial contact. He admitted to being aware of the conditions related to a GPS device provided to the accused. The accused was required to wear the tracking advice.

The day of the incident the agent was not on duty. He received a notification June 3 from a text message and/or phone call advising him that the accused’s ankle bracelet had reached, “dead battery.” After that day on the following Monday, the agent claimed he had tried to reach out to the accused.

When asked what happened, the agent stated, “he was instructed to report to the parole office so we can rectify the violation,” adding the accused did report to the parole office and was taken into custody. The accused had told the agent that he did not have access to the charger at the moment it was about to die.

The GPS was allegedly without a battery charge for approximately two hours, probation confirmed.

When asked by the defense if the accused tried to reach out to Agent Hobbs to notify him that he had lost his GPS charger, he responded “I don’t recall.” He did not have contact with the accused until he saw him the following Monday.

After reaching dead battery and after the individual can no longer be located, the agent admitted the GPS device is “unassigned,” explaining “it’s no longer tracking their whereabouts.” The accused was not being tracked from the time the GPS had a dead battery to the time he reported to the parole office.

Deputy Public Defender Carsyn Henry had a quick comment on mitigating factors before sentencing was revealed. noting, “[he] did report to parole and did eventually make contact with his agent on June 5 and agent Hobbs did not recall whether [the accused] reached out about having issues with the charger for his GPS, but there may have been some communication to that effect.”

Judge Carrie Stephens noted it’s possible nobody was in the parole office during the weekend and could possibly not make contact with the agent, but still found the accused was in violation of his parole and felt that the violation was done willingly.

Parole recommended 180 days. When the judge looked through the file, there was only one noted violation of parole by the accused while the parole office reported that this was his fifth. The DDA clarified that the violations were handled verbally.

The accused allegedly admitted to the agent that he had done methamphetamines and he had also failed to attend sexual offenders courses. The parole office also sent the accused to attend a parole agents sponsored program but the DDA doesn’t have specifics. The accused is in compliance with the sex-offenders treatment

The DPD wanted to comment that the absences to the program were not due to the accused’s actual absence but because of his being tardy.

Judge Stephens didn’t sentence the accused to 180 days since it is his first formal violation, noting she understood it was a “rough start” but he needs to understand the “seriousness” in maintaining a GPS tracking charger.

She imposed a 120 day sentence, but with credits of 61 days the accused will spend 30 days more in county jail.

She ended by telling the accused, “I hope this is a wake-up call for you because the thing is with these violations is that if you do not abide by them parole will be right back with the court next step and ask for more time.”

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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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