Friday, August 21, 2020

People v. Contreraz (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 21, 2020)

The trial court sentences the defendant, Mr. Contreraz, to a decade in prison.  But it then suspends execution of the sentence entirely, and puts the guy on three years of probation instead.

To me, that's a sentence that's relatively difficult to justify.  If the defendant really deserves ten years in prison, do we really want to have him serve zero actual time?  By contrast, if we really think that the guy deserves to walk out of court a free man -- with zero time -- shouldn't his sentence be lower than a decade in prison?

It just seems a stark, very binary sentence.

At a minimum, you'd think that someone with such a sentence hanging over his head would work very hard to make sure he didn't reoffend during the three years he was on probation.  And, apparently, that's what Mr. Contreraz did.  It doesn't look like he committed any other crimes.

Nonetheless, "on February 20, 2018, the Santa Cruz County Probation Department filed a petition alleging that Contreraz had violated his probation by failing to report, failing to participate in an educational/vocational/therapeutic program, failing to pay fines and fees, and failing to pay restitution. The trial court held a contested hearing on the petition on May 3, 2018 and found that Contreraz violated his probation. Accordingly, the trial court terminated probation and executed the previously imposed prison sentence of 10 years."

That's a lot of time -- a lot -- for some relatively minor (in the scheme of things) probation violations.