COURT WATCH: Defense Argues It’s ‘Rare,’ but Judge Backs Prosecution Request for Supervised Release and SCRAM for Misdemeanor Case

By Karime Ayon and Audrey Sawyer

WOODLAND, CAAlthough the defense argued it’s rare for an accused facing a simple misdemeanor to get released from jail on supervised release and issued a SCRAM device for alcohol monitoring, that’s what the judge did here in Yolo County Superior Court this week at an arraignment.

The accused is facing charges of driving under the influence (DUI), driving on a suspended license and operating the vehicle without his ignition interlock device.

While prosecution pushed for SOR by citing prior DUI convictions and excessive blood alcohol content, Deputy Public Defender Danielle Craig emphasized that cases such as this one traditionally do not receive SOR, because it’s a misdemeanor. DPD Craig also opposed the prosecution’s push for SCRAM.

The accused had previously been convicted of two prior DUI offenses in 2019 and 2020, involving “high blood alcohol levels and possession of cocaine post-arrest,” according to Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek, adding there is another “pending case with a suspended license. The accused continued to drive under the influence regardless of what the conditions were.”

The prosecution then asked the court to put the accused on SOR because, “This defendant’s conduct is extremely troubling.”

Deputy Public Defender Danielle Craig objected to both the request to put the accused on SOR, and the request for SCRAM, arguing, “It is incredibly rare for a misdemeanor to be on SOR status. The two prior convictions alleged…2019 might seem that it was just around the corner, but that is halfway through statutory status. That was five years ago. Do not put him on SCRAM.”

DDA Craig did say she understood and was fine with the standard terms for individuals with DUI charges, such as not being able to drive without a license or insurance was understandable, and even conditions which would not allow for the accused to consume any alcohol were all right, but she would be opposed to SCRAM.

Regarding the cocaine claim, DPD Craig responded, “That is not relevant, there were no allegations that there were any drugs in the accused’s system. This is merely a fact to inflame the court in making the SOR request. I do not believe SOR to be appropriate.”

DDA Craig suggested to the judge the accused should perhaps be sent to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or have conditions of no alcohol usage, instead of agreeing to the usage of the SCRAM device and the SOR status.

“His behavior is very concerning to the court…the court will grant SOR with SCRAM,” said Judge Catherine Hohenwarter, noting “the failure of the ability of the accused to not drive under the influence and continue to drive despite his license being suspended.”

Judge Hohenwarter directed the accused to go to probation within the next 24 hours in order to be given the SCRAM device and SOR. The next hearing for the accused to be present in court is Feb. 6.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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