042107 SYVHS teen arraignment

Pictured in this file photo is the unnamed 15-year-old juvenile charged with assaulting another girl during a fight at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. The juvenile is seated next to her attorney Michael B. Clayton, left, at the Santa Maria Juvenile Court during an arraignment appearance in April.

The case involving a teenager who reportedly assaulted another minor at Santa Ynez Valley High School finally reached a resolution Thursday, with the suspect pleading to a misdemeanor charge that likely will result in restitution and a restraining order that will remain in place.

As part of a deal struck with Deputy District Attorney Marina Santisteban, the felony charge was dropped, and the female suspect pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of assault likely to produce great bodily injury, according to her attorney Michael Clayton.

She will return to court June 16 for sentencing. She is expected to pay restitution to the victim in the case and remain 300 yards away her. 

The suspect was charged by the District Attorney's Office after the fight, which resulted in the victim being hospitalized with injuries.

The teen now attends Pioneer Valley High School, where she has maintained excellent grades, Clayton said. Her detention status also was knocked down from house arrest to a time curfew, which means that the minor will not be allowed to leave the house past 7 p.m., unless accompanied by her parents or with prior approval with probation. 

Last month, the teen's attorney pleaded not guilty on behalf of his client and informed the court that he was ready to try the case after not receiving discovery items from the prosecution. A tentative trial date was planned to begin the first week of June. 

Following the hearing, Clayton said that he and his client were pleased with the agreement, as he maintained that the charge should not have been filed as a felony in the first place after reviewing all evidence and witness testimony.

"My client should have backed off; she shouldn't have retaliated," he said. "She is very remorseful for her actions, and she wishes she could take it back."

The attorney also said he hopes the case will spread the message that violence is not acceptable, and that kids should not be fighting in school and, instead, look for nonviolent ways to resolve any situation.

"If there's an issue among students, they should report to a teacher or principal," he said. "Don't take the law into your own hands." 

"Allegations of violence in any location of our county will be thoroughly investigated by one of our county's law enforcement agencies, and if appropriate, prosecuted by our office," District Attorney Joyce Dudley later said in a statement. "It is, of course, understandable that the people of our county will be especially concerned about acts of violence perpetrated against children in our schools."

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


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