Homeless woman arrested in Castaic awaits hearing

A homeless person huddles under a tarp and plastic sheeting on the sidewalk on The Old Road in Castaic during a heavy rain on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. Dan Watson/The Signal

The homeless woman who was arrested in Castaic both on a previous warrant and suspicion of disturbing the peace awaits her next court proceeding, according to officials at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.  

Last week, the 60-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of disturbing the peace and having an active warrant for her arrest after allegedly throwing items at passing vehicles near where she had been staying in front of a shopping center in Castaic.  

On Friday, a mental competency hearing was held and a judge ordered her to return once again on Feb. 18 for further proceedings.  

“When a doubt is declared as to the defendant’s mental ability to assist in their own defense, criminal proceedings are suspended until their mental health capacity is restored,” said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.  

The woman is being held in lieu of $70,000 bail, according to Sheriff’s Department inmate booking log information. Those same records had indicated at the time of her arrest that her bail had originally been set at $250.  

Officials from the District Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment regarding the woman’s custody status or why her bail had increased by tens of thousands of dollars seemingly overnight.  

When asked about how individual cases like this work, Chris Najarro, executive director for Bridge to Home, called the system “complicated.” 

“It’s a complicated system and then we don’t have enough funding and resources that’s in need, unfortunately,” said Najarro. “In a county like Los Angeles, it’s really difficult to meet the needs of every individual that needs public services, not just homelessness — in general, public services.” 

Najarro said that while the last homeless count conducted locally tallied less than 300 individuals, the total number of people Bridge to Home services is closer to 1,000 households, which can include mothers, fathers, children, or individuals.  

“When you fill out a document, and regardless of whether you have an address or not, and they say ‘how big is your household,’ they can say ‘my household is a size of one’ or a ‘size of five.’” 

Najarro said the definition of homelessness, or those able to receive help from Bridge to Home in that specific capacity, are said to be those who “don’t know where they’re going to be in 14 days.”  

Najarro said she could not comment specifically on whether Bridge to Home had reached out to specifically help this woman — citing privacy issues for her — and said that a court, generally speaking, would be the one to determine what environment — should they be arrested — would be suitable for a person based on their mental health.  

“When it comes to somebody’s mental state…it is the court’s decision, and there’s a lot of legalities that go into that and it takes a very long time to get that all squared away,” said Najarro.   

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