Monday, February 26, 2007

People v. Robles (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 27, 2007)

Yes, Virginia. You do indeed have a right to admit probation violations. Even if your counsel keeps telling you that this is a horrible -- horrible -- idea.

So, for example, when James Robles gets pulled into court for allegedly violating his probation, and his attorney requests a hearing date to contest the violation, Robles is permitted to say (as he does): "No, I'm going to go ahead and get sentenced. I want to. I will just go ahead. And I have a drug problem . . . and I want to go ahead if it's all right. I admit to my violations." We will, in fact, give effect to this request. Especially when -- as here -- Robles, after conferring at some length with counsel, who again requests a hearing date, again interjects "I don't want to continue this. I admit my violations. I tested dirty – positive for methamphetamines [sic]. I have a drug problem. I admit my violations. . . . I don't want to go to prison."

You have that right, Mr. Robles. But can I offer this tiny, tiny suggestion. Both to Mr. Robles and to anyone else who might in the future have a similar sentiment.

Listen to your lawyer. You may think you're doing the best thing for your own welfare. But, trust me, your judgment is often, shall we say, clouded. You may well be making a big, big, big mistake.

Don't believe me? Just ask Mr. Robles. Who, the next day, once he finally understood the consequences of his admission (e.g., three years in the pokey), tried to withdraw it.

Sorry. Tough luck. You had a right. You exercised it. You're bound.

Lesson for the day. Worth repeating:

Listen to your lawyer.