COURT WATCH: Judge Calls Unaffordable Bail ‘Reasonable’

By Sarah Chayet and Ella Rindt

MODESTO, CA- During a case management conference at the Stanislaus County Superior Court of California Tuesday, Judge Saul Garcia denied the public defender’s request for the accused to be released on his own recognizance, based on the accused’s previous failures to appear. 

Judge Garcia also called the previously set $2,000 bail was “a reasonable amount,” despite the accused claiming he couldn’t afford it, and despite the defense claims that he could not afford the bail, had medical issues and had committed a nonviolent crime.

In 2023, the accused was charged with theft and drug felony convictions which were reduced to misdemeanors, and, according to the prosecution, has four separate incidents of failing to appear in court.

“I believe (the case) is out of Tuolumne County, and I believe this defendant was also transferred for probation supervision that matter from Tuolumne County into our county,” said the prosecution. “I’m going to be speaking with Tuolumne County about taking both of these defendants back.”

“However, in addition to that 47 A felony conviction in that 2023 case, the rap sheet shows four separate convictions in that same matter for 1320 B, which I believe are failures to appear, so I’m not confident that (the accused) will return,” continued the prosecution.

Judge Garcia would later use the fact that the accused’s cases are associated with different counties for reasons to deny the defense own recognizance (OR) requests, and eliminating bail.

“So looking at (the accused’s) rap (sheet), it looks like there was a (failure to appear) conviction, two of those in Tuolumne County,” said Judge Garcia, agreeing with the prosecution’s statements.

The defense then took issue with the bail amount that had been set at an earlier arraignment hearing, calling into question its affordability.

“I understand his bail is currently set at $2,000,” said the defense.

“And he can’t afford that?” asked Judge Garcia.

“He just shook his head in the negative, no,” replied the defense after checking in with the accused.

The defense also stated in argument the accused was taking on an assortment of odd jobs and landscaping positions to support his income.

“I will note that this is not a crime of violence, so it’s not an article 12 case,” said Judge Garcia. “However under article 28, the court can consider the need to protect community safety as well as ensure the (accused is) present to make sure that he makes his court appearance.”

Making his final decision, Judge Garcia stated: “(The accused) indicates that $2,000 is not an amount that he can afford. However, based on the failure to appear convictions that are recent, and the fact that he has convictions out of other counties, the defendant’s criminal history, his prior history of not complying with court orders, and the likelihood that the defendant will appear to his court proceedings, the court has made the determination that, although he can’t afford the $2000, it is a reasonable amount to ensure his presence.”

“Under that basis, the court is not going to change the arraignment court’s initial denial of OR, and we’ll leave the bail set at $2000,” continued Judge Garcia.

The matter has been continued to Thursday.

About The Author

I'm a recent California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo grad. I majored in English and received a minor in Studio Art. In the fall, I plans to go back to school for a master's degree in English Literature. Currently, I am a transcript editor for CalMatters, and I hope to enter the field of technical writing someday. In my freetime, I love to draw, go on roadtrips, and camp

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