San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office

People v. Dekimbre Bell

There has been recent commentary in the media surrounding the resolution of the case of People v. Dekimbre Bell by the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office would like to take this opportunity to correct the dissemination of misinformation about the resolution of this case. First, most felony charges have sentencing ranges which allow for both a minimum sentence, a maximum sentence, or any sentence in between. In this case, the minimum could be probation with no jail time, up to a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison. Second, according to California law, any defendant who possesses child pornography can only be charged with a single count. Meaning if someone possesses multiple images of child pornography, they can only face a single charge. Third, the “local” sentence of one year imposed in this case allows for intensive supervision on probation, rather than less supervision on parole post release community supervision. In this instance the length of the period of supervision had the defendant been sentenced to prison would have been much shorter on post release community supervision rather than on probation. This means the defendant is better supervised on probation in this case, as he will be on probation for up to 5 years rather than a much shorter period of only 1 year on parole. If the defendant violates probation after release from jail, the court can sentence him to up to 3 years in prison, providing a huge incentive for him not to reoffend. Fourth, occasionally this type of case will be filed by the federal authorities and if the cases can be pursued at the federal level, this is the preferred practice.

Here, the defendant entered a plea allowing for a maximum sentence of 16 months. The case was set for a sentencing hearing whereby the court would ultimately determine what the final sentence would be. The maximum penalty for this offense is 3 years in state prison. Certain aggravating sentencing factors must be present to receive a maximum sentence. Those factors, such as an extensive criminal history or prior convictions for similar crimes, were not present in this case. The defendant will have to register as a sex offender, attend a sex offender management program, and will be supervised by the Probation Department’s Intensive Supervision Unit for up to 5 years with numerous conditions of probation, including unlimited searches of his person, vehicle, and residence, close monitoring of his online activities and electronic devices, as well as his movements and proximity to children within the community.

Our office strongly believes that if we can appropriately resolve a case with the least amount of harm to the victims, witnesses and the community, we do so. We also look at the outlay of resources required to take a case to trial. If we had demanded the maximum sentence in this case and taken it to trial, the judge could have imposed same one year sentence (or a lesser sentence) based upon the defendant’s young age (22), and his lack of criminal record. The District Attorney’s Office believes the ultimate resolution balanced and considered all factors in this case, in that it holds the defendant accountable, protects the public, and creates incentives for the defendant not to reoffend.