Friday, August 19, 2011

Deporting U.S. Citizens from Their Home State?

I want to deviate a little bit form T & T’s usual back of tricks. This story does not involve murder or child abuse. It does not involve any sort of violence nor is the “perp” an illegal alien gang member or a career criminal. It is the story of two states, medical marijuana, a plea deal, and the State of California “deporting” a native-born Californian for no stated reason.
In January 2011, a 29-year old man we will call T.J., a legal resident of California, was driving through Arizona on the way to a family visit on the East Coast. T.J. was a legal medical marijuana cardholder in California, prescribed for anxiety, and was traveling with legally-acquired marijuana in the trunk of his car He was stopped in the high desert region of Arizona for a minor traffic infraction, and consented to a search of his car after the cop had a “feeling” T.J. had marijuana in the vehicle. He consented to the search because he knew he could have been detained while the officer obtained a warrant.
He was arrested for possession and transport of marijuana for sale, booked and released. He turned around and returned to California, and shortly thereafter retained an attorney in Arizona. The penalty could have been as severe as several years’ imprisonment or as little as probation.
In concert with his criminal defense attorney, T.J. decided to plead guilty to transportation of marijuana for sale, a Class 3 felony, through a plea bargain, avoiding a trial. A judgment and sentencing hearing at the end of June outlined the terms of the plea deal. The terms of the plea kept T.J. out of jail in Arizona, but necessitated paying a series of fines, community service and three years probation. Terms of probation included random drug testing (which also meant no more medical marijuana) and no alcohol use or spending time socializing in bars. Because T.J. had gainful full-time employment in California, he and his attorney asked that probation be served in California. He was also ordered to pay an interstate processing fee and a refundable interstate extradition deposit along with monthly probation fees.
Here is why you are reading this story: Earlier this week T.J. learned that the State of California did not accept his probation, and told him he had to leave the state, nearly two months after Arizona drafted the terms of probation. Yes, you are reading this correctly—a 29-year old white male United States citizen, a taxpaying resident of California, was deported (of sorts) by the state of California.
In the court order, in the section titled “Uniform Conditions of Supervised Probation,” there is a statement that reads:
I may apply for Interstate Compact supervision in the state of California and will not proceed to that state until reporting instructions are received and the APD [Arizona Probation Department] issues a written travel permit.
Problem is, T.J. has NOT been residing in Arizona. He holds a job and maintains a residence in California, and was never jailed in Arizona. Once he was booked, he was free to go, with no travel restrictions. He even asked permission from Arizona’s probation department to attend a family function in Mexico—something required by the terms of his probation.
California’s Department of Probation did not give T.J. or his attorney in Arizona a reason for denying T.J.’s request to serve his probation in California. T.J. drove down to Arizona to try to get things straightened out, but has been told that he can be anywhere BUT California.
Yes, you are reading this correctly. A gainfully employed white male who has broken no laws in California, who plead guilty to a class 3 felony in Arizona and has agreed to terms of probation, has been deported from his state of residence. As I write this, his attorney believes that T.J. may be unable to return to California until the end of September.
So now it’s legal to “deport” an American citizen from a given state, but it’s nearly impossible to deport an illegal alien who is breaking the law by being here, let alone other probable infractions including identity theft, driving without a license, and maybe welfare fraud? It’s legal to prevent a U.S. citizen from holding down a job, to put his life in limbo because the state of California is broke and unwilling to “supervise” his probation? (As part of his agreed-upon sentencing, T.J. will pay a monthly probation fee.)
Seriously, is this what this state and nation have come to? And if any of our readers happen to be attorneys with ideas on how this miscarriage of justice should proceed, please contact me through T & T.


voiceforchildren said...


Jersey's State Controlled MEDIA

Anonymous said...

The state courts of Arizona & California never established a legal protocol for the case. Probation departments are typically enforcement entities which take direction from the court system. It sounds like Arizona's justice system has determined a punishment (probation) and stipulated that it can be enforced by California's department of probation but, because the judgement has not been made by it's own justice system, California Corrections & Parole has no basis to enforce it. I look forward to comments from other readers......

KZ said...

Hi CaliGirl,
Very interesting story, and thanks for the opportunity to comment. My first inclination was to be as annoyed/ angry as you are about the situation. At first glance, it does seem that he is being deported from the state of his birth, his home, where he has ties, family, and a job (from which he pays taxes.) And so, as I ponder a bit, I've come to some realizations that make the story make more sense to me.

First, the marijuana laws of California are not required to be recognized by other states, in much the same way that gay marriage laws are not recognized in all states. Marijuana is a highly contentious issue that most states have determined is an illegal substance, and that possession of a certain amount of this substance under certain circumstances justifies “intent to distribute” charges. He was free to remain in California-- no one made him travel, and marijuana is not a life support drug. It was completely on him to determine how much marijuana he could transport legally across the country. It is highly unlikely that this individual had in his possession ONLY enough to comply with California's prescription laws. Intent to distribute laws specify a certain amount of drug-- usually “a lot”.

Even having said that, it would be interesting to find out “what” kind of traffic infraction was presumed, and “why” the officer asked to see inside his trunk. Perhaps he was “profiled” due to some other evidence, perhaps not. The fact remains that whatever amount was found, the individual PLED GUILTY to 3rd degree felony intent to distribute. That is huge, in terms of what happened to him subsequently. He could have pled “not guilty”. His SENTENCE was a fine, community service, and PROBATION. Probation is in LIEU OF jail time. Now, he was ALLOWED to apply to California to serve his probation there, but they were under no obligation to supervise his probation. California has serious financial troubles at the moment. It would be interesting to know HOW MANY other individuals have applied to have interstate probation monitored by California, and been turned down. Perhaps he is the recipient of a statewide policy to “not” accept probation applicants from other states, as a cost saving measure. This is uncertain at this point.

I think what it comes down to is that states have rights. Arizona has the right to enforce their own laws and legally imposed sentences for infractions. California has the right to refuse to supervise or carry out the sentence imposed by another state. The individual did not have the right (legally) to carry his marijuana prescribed in California across state lines, and he pled guilty to a crime of possession with intent to distribute. Arizona has the duty and right to supervise his sentence of 3 years probation. And California does have the right to say “we can't/ won't carry out Arizona's sentence”. It's unfortunate, but I don't see this individual as a victim. I see him as someone without common sense, or possibly someone who was wanting to use his valid California prescription as a justification to transport an illegal quantity of marijuana.

CaliGirl9 said...

KZ, without giving too much detail, he was profiled based on time of day he was out and about and his skin color. Apparently in that area of Arizona a large portion of the drug trafficking trade is by white or black males driving alone.

Yes, he was dumb as hell for carrying that much pot.

But in taking the plea, other charges were dropped—the most important one being having such a large quantity of pot near a school, even though it was 1 a.m.-ish. Seems Arizona doesn't take kindly to that.

The real beef here is no reason was given by California as to WHY it would not supervise his probation. Heck, the terms of the probation reveal he has to pay for those visits himself, somewhere around $150 a month. He accepts he deserves what he has coming, but right now it's just real hard to understand why an U.S citizen gets hassled so much when illegal aliens are being released from custody and not cited for doing the same thing, and then being put on a track to anmesty—and yes, there is a case like that in this crummy state!

And he is still marooned in Arizona!