On March 10, 2020, our client, then 66 years old, entered into a no contest plea bargain to a charge of violating Penal Code § 368(c), also known as elder abuse. Our client had no prior criminal history at all. She had never worked in her life outside the home, having been a housewife to her disabled husband.
The case arose in the summer of 2019 after our client swung her purse to hit her mom, age 91, when her mom was trying to stop her from taking her prescription medication. Our client’s mom suffered a few bruises, as she bruised quite easily due to her older age.
The terms of the plea bargain were that our client was placed on three years of summary (informal) probation on the following terms and conditions: payment of court fees and fines totaling $220; enrollment in and completion of 52 batterers classes; perform eight hours of community service and make a $500 donation to a battered women’s shelter.
By mid-2021, our client then completed all terms and conditions of probation except the passage of seventeen more months of summary probation. We then reached out to the client to see if she was interested in asking the judge to end her probation early. We explained that with the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 1950, the judge may consider her probation terminated by the passage of law because it was not resolved as a domestic violence case (had it been resolved as a domestic violence case, Penal Code § 1203.97 would require three years of probation, making our client ineligible for AB 1950 relief).
Our client, now 68 years old, responded that she certainly wanted to ask the judge to end her informal probation early because she was experiencing pressing health concerns herself and was considering an elder care facility for herself. She believed or was told that if she were on probation, for elder abuse no less, she would be disqualified from living in such a facility or even receiving home health care benefits from the State of California.
Our office then prepared a Motion for Modification of Probation to End Probation. The motion included argument that by operation of law, probation terminated about seven months earlier with the passage of Assembly Bill 1950 because Penal Code § 368(c) was not an offense excluded from the bill’s provisions. Penal Code § 368(c) did not have a specified probation period, so AB 1950 applied.
The motion also included a declaration from our client, wherein she stated that over the past nineteen months since the incident, she committed to turning her life around and living in a positive, productive direction. She stated that definitely learned her lesson and would never let something like this happen ever again. The declaration included photographs of our client with her husband, her adult children and her two grandchildren.
Our motion argued that when our client entered into a plea bargain to resolve the case, she did not know her health would deteriorate so quickly that she would need home health care or need to apply to live at an elder care facility.
The motion argued that our client was fearful that if she could not receive proper home health care, she would not be able to care for herself. She did not want her family to pay for her mistakes.
Our office then filed the motion in the Torrance Superior Court and served the Torrance District Attorney’s office with the motion.
About three weeks later, we received notice of a hearing date. We then relayed this along to the Torrance District Attorney.
On the date of the hearing, Greg Hill appeared in court on the client’s behalf. Quite fortunately, the assigned District Attorney did not argue that due to the relationship between our client and her mom, Penal Code § 1203.97 applied, making the probation period three years. Had this argument been made, the judge certainly still would have had discretion to end probation early, but could have decided not to end probation early.
The judge also appeared to focus strictly on 368(c) being eligible under AB 1950 and did not consider the familial relationship between our client and the victim. The judge granted the motion, which made our client extremely happy. Our office would next move on to filing a petition for dismissal (expungement) of the conviction under Penal Code § 1203.4.
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