COURT WATCH: Judge Won’t Reduce Felony Charge, Claims ‘System’ Can’t Help Accused in Misdemeanor Case, Then Schedules Competency Hearing

By Audrey Sawyer and Yenah Lee

WOODLAND, CA — A man accused of felony vandalism charges did not have his charge reduced to a misdemeanor here in Yolo County Superior Court Tuesday despite his attorney’s efforts emphasizing significant mental health concerns and the accused lacking “a ton of criminal history.”

The judge also set a competency hearing for the accused as the hearing ended.

Judge Samuel McAdam, who emphasized concern over the accused’s criminal history, consisting of all misdemeanor conduct in California and in Utah, explained that the way the system is set up, the accused would be “unable to receive services and supervision” if the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor.

The vandalism damage was estimated to be over $2,600, qualifying the charge to be a felony vandalism charge instead of a misdemeanor vandalism charge, said the court.

A holding order was issued to the accused, while Deputy Public Defender Erin Dacayanan requested a reduction to a misdemeanor pursuant to PC § 17(b), arguing that the accused is “absolutely suffering from mental illness, yelling at individuals to get away from his tree whilst holding a brown paper sign.”

Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod noted the damage costs, arguing the accused had caused some dents and damage to a door handle. DDA Aimee McLeod cited the accused’s criminal history, which does consist of various misdemeanor conduct from both the early 2000s in California and Utah, as reasoning for it to not be appropriate for any reduction, except for possibly part of a plea deal.

While Judge McAdam acknowledged the release document referenced the accused’s mental status, he agreed there was serious misconduct and that the accused needs supervision and services.

Judge McAdam added that while he does not consider $2,600 to be a large amount, he is “more concerned with the system, and that we cannot get him services and supervision if this were to be a misdemeanor setting.”

As the judge denied the 17(b) motion, he did mention there could be conversation about opening up to a misdemeanor resolution at the current point given the “history and circumstances” of the accused.

DPD Erin Dacayanan stated the accused has not been understanding the proceedings process, and that the accused is operating under an assumption that he still is representing himself, which was denied at arraignment.

She said that while she attempts to work with the accused on his case, the accused is consistent with the claim of representing himself and will not sign any releases pertaining to his information.

As a result of the DPD’s notice, the judge scheduled a mental competency hearing for Sept. 12 at 9 a.m.

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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