COURT WATCH: Judge Casts Doubt on Prosecution’s Felony Offer, Suggests Motion to Reduce Charge 

By Cynthia Hoang-Duong and Elina Sadeghian

MODESTO, CA –Judge Carrie Stephens raised questions about Deputy District Attorney Ney Montenegro’s felony offer here last Friday morning in Stanislaus County Superior Court because of the accused’s lack of criminal history.

Before discussing the procedures for the upcoming preliminary hearing, Judge Stephens asked the two parties if the offer conveyed by the prosecution was a misdemeanor.

Deputy Public Defender Carsyn Henry stated there was a felony offer, prompting the judge to inquire about the amount of damage involved in the case.

DDA Montenegro responded the damage amounted to $1,500, with the DPD clarifying that only a door was damaged.

Judge Stephens then asked, “Mr. Montenegro, have you considered making a misdemeanor offer?”

The DDA admitted he had considered a misdemeanor offer, but because the complaining witness reported the offense was an ongoing issue, the prosecution decided to pursue a felony charge.

In response, the judge noted to the defense the court would entertain a 17(b) motion—a petition to reduce an offense from a felony to a misdemeanor—during the preliminary hearing.

Although declaring she would withhold judgment, the judge added, “I just don’t see that [the accused] has much criminal history at all and it (the 17(b) motion) just seems like it might be appropriate.”

With this said, Judge Stephen reviewed the accused’s speedy trial rights with him before setting the preliminary hearing for Aug. 29.

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