COURT WATCH: Arraignment on Battery Charges – Accused Struggles to Plea,  Resists Probation Terms   

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By Estrella Torres

VENTURA, CA – In an arraignment hearing last week here in Ventura County Superior Court, the accused struggled to make a plea because of what the accused alleged was insufficient explanation and information about the case.

A long private deliberation with the accused took place during the hearing to decide the plea.

On July 23, 2021, the accused allegedly committed misdemeanor offenses including battery and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. The drug counts have been dismissed.

Pleading guilty to the battery charge, the court explained, meant the accused would have to abide by all the terms of her probation.

Deputy Public Defender Olivia Hudnut asked the court if it could grant the probation “without the drug terms,” but the judge stated, “No, those were the terms,” to which the defense said, “Understood.”

Directly after Judge Wright asked the accused to state a plea, there was no immediate response. The accused encountered much difficulty in making a plea and therefore turned to consult with DPD Hudnut.

This was followed by a private conversation between DPD Hudnut and the accused for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The prolonged deliberation involved the public defender giving more explanation and information about the case so the accused could decide how to plead.

The judge again stated the drug terms of her probation, noting, “No narcotics or dangerous drugs,” but the accused interrupted by yelling, “No!” and claiming they were “falsely accused” of having drugs at the scene of the crime.

The accused then stated, “Wait a minute,” and explained how she wanted to be released on probation with “no drug terms.” DPD Hudnut responded to her, saying, “That’s not an option,” and the accused yelled, “No!” another three times.

The accused adamantly resisted the drug terms, telling the court, “The night of my arrest, I didn’t have drugs.”  She continued to call it a “conspiracy,” claiming she was framed and that someone else had “planted that” —referring to the drugs.

The judge explained to the accused she “must accept these terms or go to trial.”  Again, DPD Hudnut turned to deliberate with the accused, saying she has two options: “If you agree to the terms, then you will be released today,” or “Wait for trial.”

The accused ultimately ended up accepting the drug terms of her probation and pleading “no contest.”

The judge affirmed the plea stating, “I accept the plea and find you guilty,” and outlines her probation terms once more and that her sentence has been served. All other remaining drug counts were dismissed.

About The Author

Estrella Torres is a first-generation Latina student in her 3rd year at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is pursuing a major in Political Science and a minor in Public Affairs. Estrella has a strong passion and dedication to addressing social justice issues and political activism both in her high school and university. Her positionality as a student coming from a Mexican immigrant household has fueled her to pursue career goals involved with social justice and immigration law. She hopes to help undocumented immigrants as a lawyer and promote policies that would better their lives and provide them with fair and equal opportunities. Because of this, she is planning to go on the pre-law track and foster her skills of reading, writing, analyzing, and critical thinking. She hoped to gain more experience in journalism as regards law, local government, and public policy that would further prepare her for her goals.

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