Criminal Justice

Fence-Building Crime Time: 6 Months

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A California man with no prior record has been sentenced to six months in jail. His crime? Building a fence at his home on what the city of Torrance apparently told him was his own property, after he called to ask the city to fix a dilapidated fence that was already there.

Subsequently, however, Francisco Linares was told that the new fence he had built was on city property, and his problems began, reports the Daily Breeze. The city charged the 51-year-old insurance company district manager in 2004 for three misdemeanors: the fence, a retaining wall that exceeded a two-foot height restriction, and erecting stone columns without a required analysis.

They are the reason why Linares is now headed to jail. In January, he agreed to a plea deal that said he must either to get required city permits or remove offending structures. Neither has happened, although Linares and his lawyer, Richard Hamar, say city delay is the reason why he doesn’t have the permits in hand. (The city blames Linares for the problem.)

Torrance Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson said it was time for Linares to pay the price for not complying, and sentenced Linares yesterday to a maximum six months in prison, the newspaper reports. He plans to appeal, but it isn’t clear that this will save him from starting his jail term as scheduled on Sept. 10.

“We’re talking about fixing a fence that was on city property,” says Hamar. “He didn’t build a Las Vegas casino. You put a guy in jail for six months because he repaired the city fence?”

“He’s had a couple of years to correct the problems,” says Dean Pucci, a Fullerton, Calif., lawyer who was hired to be the city’s prosecutor in the case. “His options were to obtain final permits or remove all of these structures built without permits.”

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