COURT WATCH: Man’s Confusion over Violation of Probation Results in Jail Time, Court Frustrations

By Helen Shamamyan and Karime Montano

LOS BANOS, CA – This week here in Stanislaus County Superior Court, a man in custody was brought to court because of an alleged violation of probation after failure to appear before his probation officer.

The man expressed his frustrations with the court, stating he was not aware he was on probation at all or that he needed to report to anyone.

Judge Carrie M. Stephens became exasperated with the man’s assertions, although the accused grew increasingly agitated as they interacted.

The accused again insisted he had no knowledge of his probation obligations.

This led to the deputy public defender stating he wanted to dispute the ongoing charges, a request which was quickly dismissed.

Judge Stephens stated it was “not possible” because the court required legal cause to revoke his probation, and put the accused back in custody in the first place.

Judge Stephens became visibly upset, questioning as to how he could “not know he was on probation,” noting she was present at his last hearing and had made it very clear that he was entering his probation period and had a responsibility to check in with his probation officer.

The accused was asked what he “wanted to do” multiple times by Judge Stephens, to which he repeatedly replied: “Judge, just give me the 60 days.” As they spoke, the accused appeared to be growing louder and progressively irritated with the judge.

The accused explained to the judge he had not only lost his best friend recently but was at risk of losing his job, and was having difficulty with the information she was giving him. Judge Stephens countered this was not the time for him to “air his complaints with the criminal justice system.”

The accused was demonstrating difficulties being receptive to the information or directions from the judge, his attorney or the bailiff. After some time, when the accused was escorted out of the courtroom by the bailiff, he returned from speaking privately with the DPD.

Judge Stephens then asked the defense for his decision, for if the accused can “admit that he violated probation,” he needs to spend a brief amount of time incarcerated and the probation period will have to be reset.

The accused eventually relented and admitted he missed appointments with a probation officer, as per the stipulations upon his release.

Judge Stephens reiterated a few times he was subsequently on felony probation for a “two-year time period” and sentenced the accused to 60 days of custody for violating probation, with 13 days of credit, leading to 47 days left to be served. Additionally, his prior probation sentencing was revoked and a new two-year period instated upon his release.

After hearing his sentencing and being told of the importance of reporting to an officer within seven days of his release from custody, the accused blurted out, “Is the court designed to ruin people’s lives?”

About The Author

I am a student from Southern California that's graduating this year from UC Berkeley. Prior to coming here, I worked as a court watch/ law clerk for a PEO in worker's comp cases of California warehouses. I reported the hearing summaries and outcomes to the employer and maintained correspondence with the attornies prior to and after each hearing on behalf of my boss. I have nearly completed by Bachelors in English, and I am planning on taking a break year before delving into law school to study civil rights defense.

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