Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Appellate Division Affirms Six-and-a-Half Year Sentence for Harassment
Judge Ricciardulli Says Persistent Wooer Caused Considerable Harm to Victim, Could Have Been Incarcerated for 13 Years, Fined $13,000
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court has affirmed a six-and-a-half year sentence imposed on a suitor who continued to woo a woman after she obtained protective orders.
The opinion, by Judge Alex Ricciardulli, was filed Aug. 11 and made public yesterday after the Court of Appeal deemed transfer to itself unnecessary. It affirms the sentence imposed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina on defendant Steven Thomas Faber, convicted by a jury on 13 misdemeanor counts of violating protective orders.
Faber insisted that so severe a penalty for his amorous pursuits constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. His contention was rejected.
Pointing to the gravity of the harm, Ricciardulli said:
“The jury found defendant guilty of 13 separate violations of the statute, but Kim indicated there were many more violations. Further, several violations occurred after a protective order was issued following a hearing attended by defendant, and after Kim specifically and repeatedly told defendant he was in violation of the court order by contacting her. Defendant disobeyed the orders twice by going in person to the apartment Kim shared with her son, leaving items and notes which were reasonably perceived as threatening. The vast majority of the violations occurred through defendant’s use of an array of electronic methods. Using text messages, e-mails, Waze and Instagram, defendant threatened the victim’s security, rendering her life a technological nightmare. His relentless approach featured the use of numerous phone numbers and required Kim to disconnect telephone numbers. Defendant’s contacts distressed Kim to the point that she sought the help of a therapist, and placed her in such fear that she called 911 over 10 times and installed home surveillance equipment and new locks.”
Ricciardulli noted that Faber was convicted under Penal Code §273.6(a). A single violation is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in a jail for no more than one year. He said that Dhanidina imposed no fine and sentenced Faber to six months in jail on each count, one half of the potential sentence.
“The repeated offenses, the callousness exhibited in how they were committed, and the length of time defendant will serve do not allow us to find this is “the rare case” in which comparison of the gravity of the offense and severity of the sentence ‘leads to an inference of gross disproportionality,’ the judge wrote.
Faber maintained that the sentence was unconstitutional because if he had been convicted of felony stalking, the maximum sentence would have been four years of incarceration.
“[T]he length of the two sentences are comparable, if not equivalent,” Ricciardulli said, noting that the California Supreme Court has declared that the Eighth Amendment “does not require strict proportionality between crime and sentence.”
Faber also argued on appeal that Dhanidina failed to follow the sentencing guidelines. Ricciardulli responded that “a court in sentencing a defendant on misdemeanor charges is not required to apply the aggravating and mitigating factors listed in the California Rules of Court for felonies, but may look to them for guidance,” adding:
“[I]n reviewing the propriety of a misdemeanor sentence, an appellate tribunal assesses whether the sentencing court’s decision was arbitrary or capricious, not whether a particular fact considered by the court was aligned with a felony sentencing factor spelled out in the rules.”
Met on Tinder
Faber and the victim met on Tinder, a mobile app, and dated for several weeks before the woman, identified in the opinion as Kim K., broke off their relationship.
Following the conviction, Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert issued a statement saying:
“No one should have to endure months of harassment after ending a relationship.”
He was quoted by the Signal Tribune as saying in an interview:
“The defendant’s attorney argued for a lesser sentence because there was no violence committed by the defendant. However, since the defendant had repeatedly violated court orders and caused extreme fear in the victim, a more serious sentence was clearly appropriate. Prosecutor Nadine Dahdah did an excellent job of presenting each act committed by the defendant…”
The case is People v. Faber, BR 053153.
Copyright 2017, Metropolitan News Company