By Joshua Cenzano
SANTA BARBARA, CA – A man here allegedly stole vehicles from a car rental company, but returned them in good shape—the act led to a reduction in charges.
Assistant District Attorney Adam Howland appeared this week in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in place of his colleague Wesley Meyer, asking the judge to reduce two counts of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent from felonies to misdemeanors.
JAMES JOHN (the Vanguard does not usually name misdemeanor accused) pleaded no contest to those charges and to receive his sentence. Judge Brian Hill accepted his plea and sentenced him to 60 days in custody for the misdemeanors, followed by unsupervised probation.
JOHN was an employee of the rental car company Avis when the violation occurred. The stolen vehicles were subsequently returned to the company after a period of time in the same condition, and so the attorneys for both sides in court declined to address the issue of restitution to Avis.
Defense Attorney Meghan Behrens represented JOHN in court and communicated his wish to plead no contest as well as his signed plea waiver documents for the court to review and accept.
He was initially charged with three felony counts of the same violation, but the ADA decided to reduce two counts to misdemeanors and to drop the third.
The judge also imposed a fine for each count to which JOHN had pleaded no contest, amounting to a total of $325. Due to the nature of the violation, Judge Hill gave him until June 1 to report for his 60 days in custody, minus two days of credit for time already served.
The only condition was that he submit to electronic monitoring by next Monday in the meantime; he will then be released and return himself for his sentence.