COURT WATCH: Judge Refuses to Debate True Cost of Window Replacement, Rules Accused Must Go to Trial on Felony  

By Sofia Hosseinzadeh

WOODLAND, CA – Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel Wolk Monday refused to have the vandalism charges against a Yolo County man re-investigated after a disagreement over the estimated damages allegedly caused by the accused, who’s facing a felony charge for vandalism of two broken windows.

The prosecution currently estimates that the damages caused by the accused is more than $400, so it can be charged as a felony. 

And during a preliminary hearing to determine if the accused should be held on the felony, the judge ruled the accused would be going to trial.

Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzales-Vasquez filed a motion disputing the felony charge and asking it be reduced to a misdemeanor.

“It’s quite clear that the record does not support finding that there was damage over $400 dollars,” DPD Gonzales-Vasquez argued, noting the cost of repairing windows is too subjective to confidently know the true cost of damages allegedly caused by the accused.

“I’ve seen cracks in windshields that are calling for a whole new windshield with damage over $400. I’ve seen entire spider cracks where Safelite comes back and says it’s less than $400. I don’t think there’s any kind of rhyme or reason without any evidence for the court to come to a reasonable conclusion about the value,” DPD Gonzales-Vasquez said. 

According to DPD Gonalez-Vasquez there does not appear to be sufficient evidence which proves the accused actually caused damages worth more than the $400 felony threshold. 

The DPD also questioned the authority of the court to determine the costs of damages, noting, “I don’t think any of us are in any position to be qualified to say how much the value of this window would be worth. We don’t know if the window could be replaced, if the window has to be replaced, or if the window can nearly be repaired.”

Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek maintains the $400 dollar cost, and called into question the possibility of repairing the damages caused by the accused in under that, justifying the felony charge.

“If anyone can get that repair done for less than $400 please send me that contractor’s information because that is an amazing cost to get an entire two pane window replaced. It’s just not anything that’s going to be doable at all,” DDA Van Der Hoek argued. 

DDA Van Der Hoek added a preliminary hearing does not require such attention to detail to know the exact amount of damages. “Prelim does not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt; that’s for trial. It’s just, is there enough to go forward on these charges here?”

DDA Van Der Hoek claimed, “Even the defense concedes there’s objects where the value is clearly in excess and we don’t need additional evidence of it.”

Judge Wolk ultimately sided with DDA, concluding that he does not need to debate the estimated costs of the damages.

Judge Wolk ruled, “The job of this court as in the 995 motion is not to reweigh the evidence or substitute my judgment for that of the magistrate as to the weight of the evidence or any credibility… As long as there’s some evidence in support of the information the court is not going to conspire in the sufficiency thereof.”

The accused is currently awaiting a jury trial Nov. 13.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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