COURT WATCH: Accused Man ‘Kind of’ Turns Self in, Still Sentenced to 2 Years for Violating Probation

By Fatimah Patel

MODESTO, CA – For violating the terms of his probation, the accused here in Stanislaus County Court this week was sentenced to California state prison for two years.

The accused was on probation for a domestic violence charge and surrendered himself to police in May, when he became aware of his bench warrant. On Monday the court held a hearing for the contested violation of probation.

Deputy District Attorney Melissa Chichportich argued to terminate the accused’s probation and sentence him to the mitigated term.

Defense attorney Cassady Toles argued the accused had reasonable explanations for his failure to abide by the terms of his probation, and this case should be treated as a first violation of probation.

Probation officer Christian Nava, the accused’s supervisor, testified on the stand the accused did not report to probation from October 2022 to March 2023, did not enroll in a required 52-week program, and did not serve any hours of community service—charging violations of probation terms.

The accused took the stand, explaining he did not try to check in with probation because he believed he “needed to go to jail to finish the months that (he) needed to do” before finishing the 52-week class.

When asked by defense attorney Toles why he didn’t surrender in March like he was supposed to, the accused said he thought he needed to turn himself in May, the month he was arrested. He called the police, who informed him of his bench warrant.

“Come for me, then. I’m right here,” he told them, along with his address.

Toles then asked questions regarding the various troubles the accused had while on probation, including his paperwork and bicycle being stolen a week after he got out of jail. The bicycle was his primary mode of transportation since his car was stolen while he was in jail, he said..

The accused was in contact with Modesto and Turlock Police Depts. over his stolen car.

During his probation, the defense said the accused went to the Emergency Room for stomach ulcers, an issue he dealt with for two to three months.

While giving his so—who was born during his probation— bath, the accused dislocated his knees and ankle. This issue persisted until he was arrested, and he is still under a doctor’s care for his knee, according to his testimony.

After the accused’s direct examination, Judge Kellee C. Westbrook stated the accused was specifically told to turn himself in on or before March 27.

“I think he was properly advised,” she said. “The fact he forgot his court date, didn’t contact anybody, is on him… I do know he had some hardships, but I don’t see any legal excuse for him not following through on the terms of probation.

“The court does believe by a preponderance of the evidence that the accused is in violation of probation for failing to surrender, failing to report and failing to complete his domestic violence terms.”

Judge Westbrook added that “the court will consider that there were some hardships and that the accused contacted law enforcement about his transportation and told law enforcement where he was for purposes of picking him up on the arrest warrant.”

DDA Chichportich argued that throughout his year of probation, the accused has done nothing to show the court that he is “amenable to probation.”

Given the hardships the accused faced and the absence of aggravating factors, she asked the court to “terminate probation as unsuccessful and sentence him, at the very least, to the mitigated term.”

The accused had not completed “one single term of his probation,” which DDA Chichportich argued “isn’t just one violation, it’s a violation for each month”—in addition to his failure to surrender, lack of community service hours and non-enrollment in the 52-week program.

Defense attorney Toles responded by arguing that “saying (the accused has) been on probation a year and hasn’t done anything is disingenuous, given that for the last five or six months he’s been in custody.

“While he was wrong, it’s not as if his reasons are because he thought he was above the law. He thought he had to turn in and did not think he would qualify for an alternative work program, and so thought that if he began classes he would not be able to finish them.”

Defense Attorney Toles repeated the reasons why the accused failed to abide by the terms of his probation, including a lack of understanding of court proceedings and an “awful lot of hardships” during his probation.

Communication between the court and the accused was done through a translator and defense counsel Toles noted that “there are always complications that come when dealing with translations,” and he “can’t say whether (the accused) walked out (of his original probation hearing) understanding what had happened, understanding what he’s supposed to do, or not.”

Toles argued, “When he realized there was an arrest warrant, he absolutely coughed up and reported in. Based on his testimony, if he understood how things had worked, he probably would’ve acted very differently.

“I think that giving him one more opportunity after having an increased sentence in local custody is not inappropriate. It’s more than reasonable, Your Honor. And that’s all we’re asking. We’re not asking that this be ignored, we’re not asking that this be treated as nothing. We’re simply asking that this be treated as a first violation of probation.”

Judge Westbrook ruled, “Knowing that he has been through the system previously on a similar charge, the court finds that the defendant is not amenable to probation.

“However, given the fact that he did turn himself in, kind of, and he’s never been to prison before, the court will revoke probation and sentence the defendant to the department of corrections for the low term of two years. Thereafter, he’ll be placed on parole or post-release community supervision.”

Judge Westbrook concluded the hearing with her reasoning behind the sentence: “This term is appropriate in this case because the defendant has been on probation for a year, had already had  a sentence that was almost the max for probation eligible time, did not contact probation, did not do community service, did not do classes, and did not turn himself in.

“And this was not his first time in the criminal justice system with the same charges with similar conditions.”

About The Author

Fatimah Patel is a Court Watch intern with The Davis Vanguard, and is currently a freshman student at UCLA pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is passionate about social justice, the law, and is always trying to learn new things! Naturally, she aims to go to law school and pursue a career as an attorney. In her free time, she loves to read, bake, and spend time with friends and family.

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  1. Michelle Harris

    My case regarding my abuser is in the courthouse today as matter of fact. Oct 27,2023. My abuser has excuses just like this person and same defense attorney Cassidy Toles as well as the same Judge Westbrook. Somehow my abuser is getting away with not doing his 52wk classes or the 30 day sentence he was supposed to turn himself in at h end of August . Also 40 hrs of community service. I don’t understand how my case got pushed into a different courtroom w a different judge but I’m too afraid to approach because my abuser is very violent. Case may be dismissed today but like I said I’m too scared to approach because I don’t want to risk my safety. Michelle Harris . Case name is James Anderson thank you

  2. Michelle Harris

    I am a victim of a domestic violence case in stanislaus county . My abuser never did his 52 wk classes ,40 hour community service or his 30 day jail sentence. Same attorney Cassidy Toles and same Judge , Westbrook. My abuser claims his car was stolen , claims he was on illicit streets drugs as he began living on the streets during his probation , via I had a restraining order on him, which he constantly violated i have police records, and he put himself into an  inpatient program but that doesn’t rehabilitate the violent side of him.  He got arrested by the turlock police dept on 07/12/2023 at the motel Travelodge off lander in Turlock with his two minor children in his presence, for possession of narcotic and intent to sell. He was on the stanislaus county who’s in jail roster that day for 11378 and 473 penal codes and the next morning only the 473 code appeared on the roster. I have screenshots proving this.    So I’m not sure how or why my violent abuser is getting away with any of these broken laws and violations, but something is going on within the court system in Stanislaus County.  Today, my abuser is in court over my case with him as the abuser . I’m curious how this case ends . Thank you . M Harris 

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