Criminal cases being dismissed include attempted murder

RIVERSIDE COUNTY – Over the past four weeks, Riverside County Superior Court judges have dismissed more than 500 criminal court cases due to a backlog of cases due to COVID-19 and a limited number of courtrooms.

These cases are both misdemeanor and felony cases and include nearly all crime types.

Approximately 50 felony cases have been dismissed thus far. Felony cases dismissed included charges such as attempted murder, assault, stalking, arson, vandalism, and a hate crime. Most of
the dismissals are domestic violence or driving under the influence cases. Many of the dismissed cases include a victim of crime.

These are cases in which our office has witnesses gathered and has announced that we are ready to begin jury trial. However, the Superior Court does not have a judge available to hear the case so, rather than granting a short continuance until a trial courtroom becomes available, judges have chosen to dismiss criminal cases and release the accused perpetrators back into the community.

An example of a felony case that was dismissed is the People v. Steven James Flores, INF1801291, in which the defendant was charged with attempted murder, assault with a gun, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, and resisting the duty of a peace officer in 2018. Flores was previously convicted of first-degree burglary, INF10000496. The DA’s Office has refiled this case and the new case number is INF2202320.

Another example of a felony case that was dismissed is the People v. Paul Phillip Powers, RIF2100772, in which the defendant was charged with six counts of vandalisms committed on Nov. 2, 2020, and a violation of Penal Code 422.6(b), a hate crime. As part of the dismissal motion filed, a victim spoke to the court, however, the case was still dismissed. The DA’s Office
will refile the case.

More Than 500 Criminal Cases Dismissed in RivCo

District Attorney Michael Hestrin

“The dismissal of cases and thus allowing criminals back into our community with no consequences for their actions is a danger to everyone,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement. “The consequences of the decisions being made from our judges is going to cause extreme harm to victims of crime and our community at-large. This is a public safety crisis, and it needs to stop.”

The DA’s Office is taking every available action to safeguard our community, such as arguing the dismissals in court, immediately refiling felony cases that are being dismissed, and filing appeals when appropriate, according to Hestrin.

In a statement, the DA’s Office said it is committed to keeping the public informed regarding this public safety crisis and will continue to periodically release updated information regarding case dismissals as that information becomes available.

Image Sources

  • Hestrin: Facebook
  • Dismiss: Shutterstock