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United States v. Garcia

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 14, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
HERI GARCIA, Defendant.

RELEASE ORDER

KANDIS A. WESTMORE, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Defendant Heri Garcia is charged by indictment[1] with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition on August 20, 2011 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

On April 9, 2014, the United States moved for Defendant's detention pursuant to the Bail Reform Act, and asked for a hearing as permitted by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). A detention hearing was held on April 14, 2014. Defendant was present, in custody, and represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Jerome Matthews. Assistant United States Attorney James Mann appeared on behalf of the Government. The Court considered the bail report prepared by Pretrial Services, as well as the arguments of defense counsel and counsel for the Government. Pretrial Services and the Government believe that the risk of non-appearance could adequately be mitigated with sufficient conditions, but contend that Mr. Garcia should be detained as a danger to the community. Based on the following findings and the considerations to be made under the Bail Reform Act, the Court concludes that sufficient conditions exist to assure Mr. Garcia's appearance and to mitigate any danger he may pose to the community should he be released. For the reasons set forth below, the Court, therefore, orders that Defendant be released on a $75, 000 bond with special conditions cosigned by three sureties.

II. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD

The Bail Reform Act requires that, in a pretrial posture, the government bears the burden of proving that a defendant poses a risk of flight and/or a danger to the community that cannot be mitigated through the imposition of conditions of release. If the government does not meet its burden, the Court's duty is to fashion appropriate conditions that permit the defendant to remain out of custody during the preparation of his or her defense, while safeguarding against flight or community danger. Close cases should result in release: "[t]o give effect to the principle that doubts regarding the propriety of release be resolved in favor of the defendant, the court is to rule against detention in close cases..." U.S. v. Chen, 820 F.Supp. 1205, 1208 (N.D. Cal. 1992) (Walker, J.) (quoting U.S. v. Motamedi, 767 F.2d 1403, 1405-06 (9th Cir. 1985)).

A person facing trial generally shall be released if some "condition, or combination of conditions... [can] reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(c). In non-capital cases, pretrial release "should rarely be denied." Motamedi, 767 F.2d 1403 at 1405; see also U.S. v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987) (upholding constitutionality of Bail Reform Act; "[i]n our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception").

The court must order a defendant detained if the court finds that conditions cannot be fashioned to assure the defendant's appearance in court, or the safety of the community or another person. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1). The government bears the burden of proof on either prong. To prove that no condition or combination of conditions can assure that the accused will appear at required court hearings, the government must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the accused is a flight risk. United States v. Aitken, 898 F.2d 104, 107 (9th Cir. 1990). The government must prove that defendant poses a non-mitigable danger to the community through clear and convincing evidence. Motamedi, 767 F.2d at 1406-1407.

Bail hearings generally proceed by proffer, and the rules of evidence do not apply. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). At the hearing, the court determines whether any conditions in section 3142(c) will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance and the safety of the community or another person. Id. The Bail Reform Act "mandates release of a person facing trial under the least restrictive condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required." Motamedi, 767 F.2d 1403, 1405.

In evaluating whether pretrial release is appropriate, a court must consider (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense, (2) the weight of the evidence, (3) the history and characteristics of the person (including his character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug and alcohol abuse, criminal history, or record concerning appearance at court proceedings), and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community posed by the person's release. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g); Motamedi, 767 F.2d at 1407.

III. RELEASE ORDER

Following a hearing under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f), and considering the factors set forth in section 3142(g), the Court finds that a combination of conditions in section 3142(c) will reasonably assure Defendant's appearance in this case and the safety of any other person or the community. In particular, the Court considered the following facts and 3142(g) factors:

A. The Nature and Circumstances of the Offense and the Weight of the Evidence

Defendant Heri Garcia is charged by indictment[2] with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition on August 20, 2011 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The charged offense does not give rise to a ...


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