COURT WATCH: Judge Denies Misdemeanor Diversion to Accused after Treatment Program Graduation, Claims Accused ‘Unsuitable’ 

By Audrey Sawyer

WOODLAND, CA — A defense request for misdemeanor judicial diversion was denied here Thursday in Yolo County Superior Court, despite arguments the accused had graduated from his rehabilitative program.

While defense explained to the court the accused’s previous convictions were from before the accused had entered treatment and graduated from the program, Judge Daniel Wolk sided with the prosecution to deny the motion for diversion.

The case is now set for jury trial on May 28.

Judge Wolk cited the accused’s prior criminal history that makes him “unsuitable” for diversion.

The man, accused of the misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended license, graduated from his rehabilitative program, according to Deputy Public Defender Courtney Leavitt, who said,  “All of his prior convictions were from before he entered treatment. He has graduated from his rehabilitative program.”

DPD Leavitt added the underlying issue in his cases was “his substance abuse issue, which is now addressed.”

DPD Leavitt told the court the accused has since made a lot of progress in treatment, indicated by an attached letter and proof the accused graduated from the program.

“The point of diversion is to give a person an opportunity to have convictions put behind them, especially when they have put in the effort to make a difference. These priors are not necessarily public safety issues, driving without a license is more of an administrative issue,” DPD Leavitt argued.

DPD Leavitt continued stating the accused is currently without income and that, although he might sign up for general assistance benefits, this would maybe result in a “few hundred dollars” each month.

“Diversion would give him the opportunity to continue his good progress made over the past few months without setting him back. I get he has prior convictions but I think it is clear that this may be one of the few times that he has been offered diversion,” the public defender said.

Deputy District Attorney Aimee Carrazco objected to possible diversion, claiming that the accused did not qualify, citing his prior cases.

Carrazco said, “He has two DUI convictions. One was in 2012, the other was in 2014. Other convictions include a 2018 case where he received stolen property and a 2022 case being a hit and run. He has three prior convictions.”

Regarding the current case, DDA Carrazco argued his driving behavior was concerning for public safety, adding, “He had hazards flashing across traffic, he drove on the shoulder of the opposite lane. He admitted to knowing his license was suspended. We do not believe he is a qualified candidate for diversion.”

However, DPD Leavitt clarified the police report described that he drove with hazards on, but it mentions he had driven to a river and parked, that the report did not say that it was in front of traffic, and that the accused did not admit to knowing his license had been suspended.

Judge Wolk initially praised the accused for his participation in the recovery program, but still denied diversion, adding, “In my view, as amenable as what I think he has done, I think there is too much criminal history that makes him unsuitable. The question as to whether he has potential, whether he is willing to participate in diversion, diversion should not be granted.”

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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