COURT WATCH: Vandalism Felony Reduced to Misdemeanor after Counsel Work It Out  

By Audrey Sawyer

MODESTO, CA – A man pleaded no contest Wednesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court for a misdemeanor vandalism charge—the charge was initially set as a felony before being reduced after Deputy Public Defender Reed Wagner argued it would not have been the appropriate charge, given the complaint.

The allegations against the accused are that there are three anti-theft devices the accused vandalized.

While the case was initially on calendar for a preliminary hearing, Deputy District Attorney George Biko wanted to trail the matter as he currently did not have the officer he needed to act as witness, and asked the court to postpone the hearing so the officer could be present.

DPD Wagner told the court that the case could be solved right now if the case were to be reduced to a misdemeanor because his client is willing to plead to a misdemeanor vandalism charge in order to not put it over.

“Given the facts of the case, this is reasonable. The allegation is that three anti-theft devices were vandalized. They are ordered in batches of 50, but the price per device is $20. This is really $60 in damage. The store says that they have to buy them in batches, but the amount for the entire batch would be far and excessive, not representative of what was actually damaged,” argued the defense.

DDA Biko objected to the reduction, stating the prosecution’s offer is 30 days for a felony vandalism and adding, “We are not willing to have this as a misdemeanor. Since the store is having to buy them in packs, even destroying three would be over $1,000.”

“I can give an indicated sentence. What I cannot do is say what my ruling would be based on that.” Judge Kellee Westbrook said.

After a brief off-the-record discussion between the two attorneys, the case came back with an agreement to have the accused enter a no contest plea. 

The accused is on informal court probation and conditions of the plea include paying restitution, a stay away from the business, 30 days in custody (with credits of 14+14), $350 misdemeanor restitution fund fine and an additional $150 will be stayed pending successful completion of probation. He must also report to revenue and recovery within a week of his release.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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