COURT WATCH: Accused Mother Resigned to Pay Fine Despite Financial Insecurity and Caretaker Status

By Avery Redula and Kayla Meraz

WOODLAND, CA – An accused reluctantly paid a fine as a consequence of a plea deal, despite her financial hardships and status as a mother of five here in an arraignment hearing Wednesday morning in Yolo County Superior Court.

The accused was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and was offered a deal to avoid trial by Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek.

Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira requested from the court a reduced fine amount because of the difficult circumstances of the accused.

“Is the court inclined to give her a $10 fine? She has five kids and they live two hours away and they just paid for gas to get here. Which was really expensive, and they don’t have any money,” DPD Sequeira explained to Judge Catherine Hohenwarter.

In response, DDA Van Der Hoek said, “I mean I said a fine because I can’t think of anything lower. If you can think of something lower I am open to it.”

Judge Hohenwarter dismissed the idea of a $10 fine and instead offered community service. “I would be okay with community service, as she is unable to pay the fine. In lieu of paying the fine that works out to be 8.7 hours of community service.”

DPD Sequeira argued community service substitution for the fine would be a problem because the accused needs to take care of her children.

Judge Hohenwarter outlined that the minimum fine was $261, which led DPD Sequeira to request a payment schedule of $25 a month for the accused.

DPD Sequeira could be heard discussing payment with the accused, stating there would be even more costs at the accused’s suggestion of setting up an automatic payment plan.

“You can do monthly payments until it is paid off… but then they charge you a $45 fee to set up the automatic payments. So in addition to the fine, there is an administrative fee,” DPD Sequeira explained.

The accused, when hearing of this extra payment, could be seen resigning herself to paying the $261 up front to the court.

DPD Sequeira subsequently entered a no contest plea for the accused. Judge Hohenwarter found her guilty, sentencing her to pay the fine of $261.

About The Author

Avery Redula is a second year at UC Davis studying English. After undergrad she plans to attend law school, where she can pursue criminal law. She is most interested in cases regarding domestic violence and gang violence, as she learned from her summers spent at the DA's office that they are issues that most affect her home county of San Joaquin.

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