COURT WATCH: Unhoused 50-Year-Old Woman with Physical Disability Unable to Do Alternative Service Sent to Jail for 30 Days on Misdemeanor Drug Possession 

By Audrey Sawyer

WOODLAND, CA — A 50-year-old woman who is currently unhoused and who wasn’t allowed to participate in an alternative program because of a disability was denied the opportunity to have her jail time converted to community service, and now must spend 30 days in jail beginning this Thursday.

According to the result of a hearing here in Yolo County Superior Court Monday, the accused’s alleged charges from 2019 are possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.

Deputy Public Defender Jonathan Opet acknowledged the deputy district attorney did not agree with him on converting the accused’s time in jail to community service, noting, “Because of the accused’s circumstances, she cannot do electronic monitoring, as she has no residence. She cannot participate in a work program due to a physical disability.”

DPD Opet reminded the court the accused is 50 years old, and would prefer to do community service, adding that, with misdemeanor drug possession charges, there usually tends to be no jail time.

Opet said that, to his knowledge, the accused has obeyed all laws since her charges in 2019, and that it “seems like an injustice for her to serve two weeks in a county jail.” DPD Opet added the accused is willing to comply with any amount of hours that is deemed necessary to make up for the provided 30 days of incarceration.

But those two weeks in jail quickly changed to 30 days in custody.

Deputy District Attorney Casper Gorner credited the argument made by DPD Opet, but said at the time the judge had asked her to serve 30 days. Claiming the accused would be “rewarded” if the court decided that it has been too long and that she should have community service instead, DDA Gorner demanded that the order of the court made two and a half years ago ought to still apply.

While Judge William Lebov asked if there were any prior convictions for drug related offenses, he inquired why the 30 days were referenced, asking if this was typical for first offenses on simple possession.

The accused apparently only had a single count misdemeanor complaint as noted, and no convictions for drug offenses. However, there were some cases that had been dismissed, and the dismissal of said cases were where the “30 days agreement” originated from.

DPD Opet again said he spoke with the accused Friday and that he is unsure of why the accused is not currently present in court, but that the accused has no car, let alone a residence, and is local in Woodland. He emphasized significant contact with her on the matter.

Ultimately, Judge Lebov stated that if he had not heard about the dismissed cases against the accused, he would have been more willing to convert, because the accused has not been in trouble since.

Judge Lebov maintained that because of a 30-day agreement with eight cases dismissed, one which was a drug case, the accused would have to serve 30 days.

Judge Lebov claims that if jail overcrowding is an issue, she will be released before her time is deemed served, as they would not want a “50-year-old woman in jail with a disability.” Judge Lebov added the accused has until Aug. 23 to surrender, and that if she does not, a warrant will be issued.

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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