Four years before calling up Greg Hill & Associates, our client had entered into a plea of no contest to felony attempted lewd conduct with a child under the age of 14 years (Penal Code § 288(a)). The charges had arisen over an attempted meeting with a young lady he “met” over the Internet, who ended up really being a police officer decoy posing as a juvenile. Our client had been caught in the police sting operation.
Synopsis: Torrance, sex offense case, alleged probation violation dismissed based on double jeopardy grounds because client already punished on same facts in State of Washington.
After he entered into the plea bargain, the client moved to Washington State and the duties for monitoring his compliance with the terms of his probation were transferred there. It merits mention to the reader that it is unusual for formal probation duties to be accepted by another state, but here that was accomplished.
The probation officers in Washington disliked our client immensely for reasons that are not clear, but the result of this was that they attempted to find him in violation of his probation every few months. They would visit his house at odd hours and talk with his neighbors about what they had observed him doing.
Finally, with just two months left on his formal probation, officers showed up at his girlfriend’s house and asked to search the home. The goal seemed to be to collect evidence to suggest our was living with her, which was he was not, so as to find a violation of probation because one requirement of his probation was that he could not live with anyone less than fourteen years old without approval from the probation department. He also could only live where he told the probation officer he was living. His girlfriend’s house was not where he was registered to live. His girlfriend, moreover, had a five-year old child.
The police found some clothing items and a few photographs of our client there, which they deemed sufficient to establish residence there. The Washington State parole office then excitedly had a probation violation hearing in King’s County, Washington.
At the hearing, the judge found our client had violated the terms of his probation and sentenced him to 120 days in jail in Washington. Due to the nature of his violation, he was eligible for good time credit of 1/3 off, meaning the 120 days would be deemed served upon his completion of 80 days if he behaved.
Our client did behave, but at the completion of 80 days, he was returned to the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for a second probation violation hearing. He was flown down to the Los Angeles area and then taken to jail. He was then arraigned in Torrance Superior Court and assigned a public defender.
Our client repeatedly urged his public defender to look over his documents from Washington state because they showed the probation violation had already been resolved once, but the public defender was apparently uninterested. At this point, our client retained Greg Hill & Associates.
Upon meeting with the client in the Torrance jail, Greg Hill realized the client was absolutely correct in his opinion that the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (made applicable to the states via the 14th Amendment) and portions of the California Constitution barred a probation violation case because the conduct at issue in California was the same conduct that the client was already punished for in Washington. It was textbook double jeopardy.
The challenge for our client was collecting the proper documentation to support this argument. Working with our client’s Washington counsel, who was cooperative, Greg Hill & Associates then obtained all the documentation necessary. Greg Hill then wrote a brief for the Torrance judge assigned to the matter, arguing that double jeopardy and res judicata (Latin for, loosely, “the thing was already decided”) barred the Torrance action.
The Torrance judge agreed with our client’s brief, releasing him that very day. The probation violation case was also dismissed. Our client was quite pleased and relieved to be free again.
For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:
- What Happens at a Probation Violation Hearing?
- May a Judge Extend Summary Probation Beyond Three Years If There Are Probation Violations?
- What Punishment Do I Face for a Probation Violation?