Sonora, California –– Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke announced today that on June 3, 2022, Sonora resident Joshua Hankins was sentenced to a stipulated term of 13 years in State Prison after pleading guilty to Injuring a Girlfriend and Causing Great Bodily Injury in violation of Penal Code sections 273.5 and 12022.7 as well as Failure to Appear in violation of Penal Code section 1320.5. He also admitted a prior strike for Rape. Because he was convicted of a violent offense, Mr. Hankins is not Proposition 57 eligible and statutorily, must serve 85% of the 13 years. The cases were prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli.
In 2016, after strangling and raping his then girlfriend, Mr. Hankins was convicted of a violation of Penal Code section 261(a)(2), Forcible Rape – a serious and violent felony, commonly referred to as a “strike.” Given his age, lack of criminal history, and sparing the survivor the trauma of having to testify at a jury trial, Mr. Hankins plead guilty and was placed on felony probation. He suffered a sustained violation of probation in 2018. Then in 2019, he was arrested and charged with Conspiracy and Selling Cocaine, which was enhanced by his strike prior from the 2016 Rape. In February 2020, Mr. Hankins pled to all counts open to the court. When a defendant pleads open to the court, he bypasses the District Attorney’s Office and is subject to sentencing at the sole discretion of the Judge. Mr. Hankins requested Judge Kevin Seibert strike his “strike” and place him back on probation. The District Attorney’s Office strenuously objected, arguing he was a danger to society and that he was on probation for the Rape when he committed the new felonies. In an exercise of extraordinary discretion, Judge Seibert struck Mr. Hankins’ strike anyway and placed him back on probation for both cases.
Approximately 3 months later, Mr. Hankins committed the subject offense of assaulting his new girlfriend, Jane Doe, strangling her until unconsciousness. He would later make bail and abscond for many months where he maintained a relationship with Ms. Doe, continuing to terrorize her. In preparing the case, the District Attorney’s Office was able to identify at least two other victims of Mr. Hankins’ and were able to speak to them about testifying in regard to the abuse they suffered at Mr. Hankins’ hands. Unfortunately, domestic violence plagues our country, and our county in particular. The power, control and violence wielded by Mr. Hankins trapped those he allegedly cared about in a cycle that feels impossible to escape.
While Jane Doe indicated she did not want a protective order at the sentencing, Judge Seibert granted the request of Jane Doe’s father and the People and issued a 10-year complete stay away and no contact order protecting Jane Doe from Mr. Hankins.
The District Attorney’s Victim Witness Advocates offer support and resources to survivors (and their families) of domestic violence and will continue to be available to offer support to the survivors of Mr. Hankins. In this case, Dixie Skye worked tirelessly to support Jane Doe and our previous survivors to navigate the difficulties of the criminal justice system.
If you, or anyone you know, are suffering domestic abuse, please reach out to law enforcement, our Office, or the incredible staff at Center for a Non Violent Community. Their 24-hour crisis line is (209) 533-3401.
For More Information Contact Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli at (209) 588-5450