Thursday, March 7, 2019
Court of Appeal:
Opinion Says Condition Is Reasonably Related to Deterring Future Criminality
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday found valid a condition of probation that a man whose crime resulted from ingestion of methamphetamine stay away from alcohol.
Writing for Div. Six, Justice Kenneth Yegan declared that Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Brian E. Hill acted within his discretion in imposing the condition on probationer Camron Sewell, who pled guilty to resisting an executive officer. While under the influence of methamphetamine, he threw Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Velazquez to the ground.
Sewell objected at the time of sentencing to the proviso that he not “drink or possess any alcoholic beverages and stay out of places where they are the chief item of sale” and, in particular, that he not enter bars or liquor stores. His lawyer protested:
“I don’t think that it’s the court’s prerogative or probation’s prerogative...to say [appellant] can’t have a beer when his issue is with methamphetamine.”
No Direct Connection
Hill acknowledged that there was “no direct nexus between the offense” and the condition, but queried: “[D]o we really want to tell” Sewell “it’s ok to drink alcohol?”
The judge commented that Sewell has “problems with drug abuse, more generally substance abuse,” but added that the probationer began to drink alcohol at the age of 13, though he had not consumed such beverages recently. He continued:
“But it doesn’t seem to me to further his rehabilitation to say to him go into a bar and drink beer and alcohol.
“I think it’s reasonably related to future criminality. The whole goal here is to try to help [appellant], try to make sure that he’s not abusing substances whether they’re legal or illegal.”
Public Safety Concern
Agreeing, Yegan wrote:
“Appellant consumed methamphetamine on a daily basis for six years and consumed heroin, alcohol, and methamphetamine within the two-month period preceding his arrest….The alcohol terms reasonably relate to appellant’s future criminality and were imposed to improve appellant’s chances for rehabilitation and to protect public safety….Appellant makes no showing that the alcohol terms are arbitrary, capricious, or exceeds the bounds of reason.”
Sewell contended—and the Office of Attorney General agreed—that Hill erred in imposing a $1,375 probation investigation fee without determining whether there was an ability to pay it. The case was remanded for the purpose of such an assessment.
The case is People v. Sewell, B291788.
Copyright 2019, Metropolitan News Company