Judge Denies Motion to Reduce 18-Year-Old High School Student’s Felony Charge to Misdemeanor; Sentenced to Jail and Probation

By Perla Brito

VENTURA, CA – Ventura County Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Murphy denied a motion to reduce the 18-year-old’s felony charges to a misdemeanor this week, despite pleas from the defense.

The accused faced two felony charges, one being second degree burglary of a vehicle and the other being unauthorized use of personal identifying information of another.

Present beside the accused for the sentencing hearing was Deputy District Attorney Jillian Ewan.

Judge Patricia M. Murphy acknowledged having received the sentencing report prepared for the hearing and found factual basis for the accused plea based on the report.

The accused pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of personal identifying information of another, but at the time of his plea there was an agreement between the parties which contemplated a grant for probation with a maximum jail sentence of 180 days.

The judge said “the agreement is consistent with the recommendation of the probation department.”

The defense suggested the case was overcharged.

“Before the court is an 18-year-old young man. He got involved with a much older gentleman who induced him to help him commit a crime for the one he has pled guilty to. I’m not saying that to excuse his behavior your Honor, he is a young man who has taken responsibility. He knows he has to face the consequences of his own actions,” said private Defense Attorney Nelson Mendez.

Mendez added “and with the jail sentence your Honor, I believe 180 days is excessive. I would ask the court to impose a 90-day sentence on this young man.” He reiterated the accused has no prior criminal record and that he believes he has learned his lesson.

The accused is a high school student and has a job to help his family, said the defense attorney, noting the teen has no prior juvenile or criminal record, adding “he is willing to abide by the terms of probation. I explained those to him so he knows what is expected of him. He wants to pay the restitution to the victim in this case, your Honor.”

As far as the probation terms, the defense said the accused does not have the ability to pay for the sentencing report for probation and does not see the driver’s license revocation mandatory because the accused does not have a driver’s license. Mendez asked the court to strike those terms.

Mendez again asked the court to consider reducing his conviction to a misdemeanor for these reasons, noting, “He just wants to move forward with his life and hopefully never have to appear in criminal court again.”

The judge agreed, noting “that is our goal” and asked the prosecution to address the motion of reducing the charges to a misdemeanor.

The DDA responded with “I do believe a period of time on felony supervision would be appropriate.”

Judge Patricia M. Murphy said, “I had given that a lot of thought and if we were talking about one incident or maybe two I might agree, but this was at least two different dates in which he (the accused) was involved in this activity.”

The judge added, “I think a period of time on probation and if he’s successful I will certainly reconsider but I’m hoping that he does get the message and we don’t see him back again and so that’s the rationale for my decision so the 17(b) motion [to reduce the charge] is denied without prejudice.”

The accused was placed on formal probation for a period of two years after the six-month jail sentence on the terms and conditions of probation. Other than the one felony, all other charges were dismissed.

The accused was released on probation and is scheduled to surrender to the sheriff Dec. 16.

About The Author

Perla Brito is a 4th year undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach. She is majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice and is set to graduate by Spring 2023. After graduation she plans on working at a local police department in the criminal investigations division. She intends to pursue a Masters in Psychology with a focus in Neuroscience in hopes of working on neurocriminology research one day.

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