COURT WATCH: Deputy District Attorney Pushes for More Jail Time than ‘Typical’ for Accused’s First Violation

By Elena Fasullo and Helen Shamamyan

MODESTO, CA — In one of Thursday’s case management conferences at Stanislaus Superior Court, a woman accused of her first violation of their post-release community supervision (PRCS) was sentenced to serve 105 days in jail after persistent urging from the prosecution.

According to Deputy Public Defender Grayson Wolf, the accused appeared in court intending to make an admission to this violation, prepared to accept the usual 90 days typically imposed for the first time.

However, Deputy District Attorney Harshan Samra recommended 120 days instead, standing firm that the accused’s past criminal history set the accused woman apart from the usual first violations.

In 2022, the accused was convicted of first-degree burglary, for which she served part of her time. Upon release in February of this year, the accused failed to immediately contact PRCS or report, hence the violation of the terms of her release. The accused neglected to immediately notify anyone of her change in address.

DDA Samra, who was the original prosecutor in the woman’s case, insisted the accused was not following post-release directives, and living unmonitored since February. DDA Samra noted the accused “should not be given a break” and deserves no less than 120 days.

Arguing before Judge Valli Israels, DPD Wolf questioned why this case should be treated other than any other first-time violation, and the court should not “characterize” a 90-day sentence as a “break.”

Wolf also stated that 120 days was simply more than what is given to most people in his client’s situation. DPD Wolf added that it appears to be a “failure to report” as the sole basis for the violation, but the accused has had no strikes or arrests since release.

DDA Samra stood firm in his opinion that the courts cannot “just lump every violation” into categories of first-time, second-time, or third, maintaining that they should not deviate from the prosecution’s recommendation of 120 days in county jail.

Judge Israels said she did not have a lot of time to look over this case because it was introduced to her fairly last-minute. However, she ultimately decided to “just split it in the middle” and gave the accused 105 days in jail with credits for time already served once she admitted her violation.

Although her original plea deal was for four years in custody, it was revealed in court the accused was released significantly early, which cast confusion on the details of her incarceration. In regard to the lesser time served, Judge Israels agreed with DDA Samra’s statement the accused should still be in custody, stating she has been “getting some breaks.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Israels cautioned the accused, “Your luck is going to run out,” urging her to “shape up,” before ordering the accused to report to probation within two days of release.

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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