COURT WATCH: Judge Issues Bench Warrant for Unhoused Man Who Reported to Police Instead of Probation Office

By Madison Whittemore

WOODLAND, CA – A bench warrant was issued here in Yolo County Superior Court Wednesday for an unhoused man charged with felony vandalism after he reported for his initial office visit to the West Sacramento Police Department instead of the West Sacramento Probation Office.

The good news for the accused is that the judge eventually, though reluctantly, agreed to hold the warrant for a few weeks.

Along with the felony vandalism the accused allegedly committed Nov. 1, 2022, for allegedly shattering a car window, the accused also has several pending misdemeanors.

Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, the accused was released on supervised own recognizance (SOR) by Yolo County Superior Court Judge Sonia Cortés and was given dates in which he must report to the West Sacramento Probation Office.

According to Probation Officer Arthur Arustamyan, the accused failed to report for his initial visit to the probation office, instead accidentally reporting to the police department.

“It appears that he [the accused] may have reported to the West Sacramento Police Department in error and he was asked to report to the West Sacramento Probation Office right across the street and he failed to do that,” Arustamyan explained to visiting Judge Frederick Rotenberg.

Judge Rotenberg quickly agreed with the probation officer and even referenced the accused’s lengthy misdemeanor history.

“Given [the accused’s] familiarity with the criminal justice system given the plethora of cases he has, I’ll issue a warrant. I’m not holding it” Judge Rotenberg asserted.

Deputy Public Defender Jonathan Opet interjected and explained that his client is a long-time, unhoused resident of West Sacramento.

“It does appear that he (the accused) is trying to comply with what he was asked to do” DPD Opet stated, referencing his client’s mistaken attempt to check in with the police department.

While DPD Opet conceded he was not sure about his client’s exact whereabouts, he continued to explain why his client should not be arrested for simply getting confused about the location where he was ordered to check in.

However, Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson vehemently opposed what DPD Opet said, adding that “we have no idea where he (accused) is and I am asking the court to issue a warrant today.”

After hearing DDA Johnson’s arguments why the accused should be in custody, which according to DPD Opet were very similar to the arguments made at the last court date, the DPD eventually asked Judge Rotenberg grant a two-week hold on an arrest warrant which would allow the accused time to check in at the correct location.

Suddenly changing course after DPD Opet’s pleas, Judge Rotenberg issued a two-week hold on the arrest warrant which will not go out until Sept. 20, 2023.

The accused will have 14 days to check into the West Sacramento Probation Office before being placed in custody again.

About The Author

Madison Whittemore is a rising junior at the University of California, Davis where she studies political science and psychology. After completing her undergraduate studies, Madison wants to go to law school and study criminal law while working to improve efforts for prison reform and representation for lower income citizens.

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