Judge Camacho sends strong message to habitual offenders


“Because repeat offenders do not hear the message, the court needs to turn up the volume.”

This was the strong message of Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho yesterday in imposing the maximum sentence of six months imprisonment on Denmar Malabanan, a repeat offender who pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace in connection with a domestic violence case.

Camacho ordered the 27-year-old Malabanan to spend the prison term day for day, without the possibility of parole, probation, work or weekend release.

Malabanan was given credit for time already served.

Citing Malabanan’s criminal records, Camacho said the defendant is not a candidate for rehabilitation as past lenient sentences imposed by other courts fail to have any deterrent effect.

“The time has come to impose the full maximum possible sentence,” the judge pointed out.

The Office of the Attorney General originally charged Malabanan with assault and battery, and disturbing the peace for allegedly hitting, kicking, and biting his girlfriend, causing injuries to her face, a bleeding nose, and bite marks on her shoulder and other injuries on her body because she wanted to move back to her family’s home. The charges carry a maximum penalty of one year and six months imprisonment.

Last Oct. 21, Camacho found as too lenient the government’s proposed plea agreement that recommends an imposition of a 90-day prison term against the defendant.

In rejecting the proposed plea agreement, Camacho said considering Malabanan’s past criminal cases, a 90-day jail sentence has no rehabilitative effect.

After rejecting the plea deal, the OAG dismissed the more serious charge of assault and battery. OAG then charged the defendant with disturbing the peace, which only carries a possible maximum sentence of six months imprisonment.

Camacho said the court can only consider the charges that prosecutors decide to file.

At the sentencing hearing yesterday, family members have spoken on behalf of defendant’s behalf and asked for leniency.

Malabanan was in tears, asking the court to be given another chance.

In imposing a six-month prison term, Camacho cited that Malabanan is a repeat offender with past criminal cases involving robbery, sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, assault and battery in 2007, and another assault and battery in 2013.

Camacho said it is possible that a person convicted of domestic violence, that same person can serve some jail time, undergo and successfully complete counseling, is welcome back by his family, and continue for the rest of his life as a productive member of the community.

He said these are the people who learn from their mistake and make a conscious effort to never again commit another crime.

Camacho said from experience as an attorney and now as a judge, about 90 percent of the people fall into this category.

But Camacho noted that Malabanan comes from the special 10 percent who are repeat offenders.

He said repeat offenders refuse to learn from their mistakes.

The judge said while others value a second chance, repeat offenders squander the opportunity to change their life for the better.

Last Oct. 23, Malabanan pleaded guilty to the offense of disturbing the peace. He waived the need for pre-sentence investigation report.

According to court documents, on Sept. 13, 2015 on Saipan, Malabanan punched and slapped his girlfriend in the face and that she did not seek medical attention.

The beating arose because Malabanan allegedly did not want his girlfriend to move out of his home.

Assistant public defender Tillman Clark is counsel for Malabanan. Assistant attorney general Emily Cohen represented the government.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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