The Justin Bieber egging case trundles on, and it seems Los Angeles authorities are pretty keen on pressing the point that the singer’s alleged offence deserves a felony vandalism charge.
Justin Bieber should be prosecuted with a felony charge for his alleged role in the egging of his ex-neighbor’s Calabasas, California, home according to detective Lt. David Thompson of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
Lt. Thomson led the investigation after Bieber’s ex-neighbor, Jeffrey Schwartz, accused the then 19-year-old singer of egging his house on January 9, 2014.
Schwartz claimed he and his then 13-year-old daughter witnessed the singer throw about 20 eggs at his front door. The neighbor went on to allege $20,000 damages were incurred due to expensive finishings and materials on his residence.
TMZ reports Lt. Thompson – who has spoken to the press many times stating his belief that Bieber should be charged with a felony – has gone on record again claiming a misdemeanor charge decision by Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey would be unjust.
“I led a team of people into a house where there’s armed security. I wouldn’t have done that if this was just a misdemeanor case,” said the detective, adding that a felony search warrant was agreed with and authorized by a judge.
Earlier this week, TMZ (citing Schwartz), reported the deputy D.A. allegedly told Jeffrey he believes Bieber’s alleged egging is a felony.
Detective Thompson agrees and says three points are inarguable:
1) Bieber allegedly caused $20,000 in damages, 2) the singer has allegedly been caught on home surveillance video “high-fiving” other males on the night of the egging in a Calabasas road, and, 3) the very notion of justice merits a felony vandalism charge.
Lets take a look at these points:
i) Is egging a misdemeanor or a felony?
CNN previously reported Bieber’s lawyers met with D.A. prosecutors back in March to try and persuade them the egging was “a silly prank” and, as Bieber has no criminal record it should be treated as a misdemeanor.
It’s no secret that the Sheriff’s office is gunning for a felony vandalism charge. But CNN, TMZ (citing sources) and other outlets have reported the D.A.’s office is split over whether Bieber should face a misdemeanor or felony.
Radar Online previously reported the D.A. is reluctant to go beyond a misdemeanor charge because the incident involved eggs and these are not offensive weapons. Additionally, there is considerable skepticism in some quarters about the extravagant estimated damages.
Further, the egging case involves a political element after criticisms of the cost of a Defcon 5 police raid – which was led by Thompson – at Bieber’s former Calabasas home on January 14.
Some claimed the raid was a showboating exercise of force that would not have taken place if a non-famous (and poorer) citizen egged the home of another. It is possible the Sheriff’s department’s pressurizing for a felony charge is an attempt to justify the taxpayer cost of the raid.
ii) What does the surveillance video prove?
Last month KTTV FOX 11 aired a portion of surveillance video removed from Justin’s former Calabasas home during the raid.
It revealed a blurry image of a male, which may or may not have been the singer, “high-fiving” other males in a Calabasas road the night of the egging while wearing a sweatshirt and cap allegedly also seen on an Instagram photo of Bieber that he posted the day after.
Detectives stated in an affidavit for a search warrant for Bieber’s Instagram account that the clothes worn by him in the photo matched a description given by Schwartz and his daughter, of attire they allegedly witnessed Justin wearing while allegedly egging their home.
A high resolution release of the image of the male and a match with the sweatshirt has yet to be confirmed as unequivocal.
iii) If Bieber isn’t charged with a felony for his alleged egging would that decision be unjust under the law?
Under California vandalism law when damages are greater than $400 it’s commonly referred to as a “wobbler,” which means the D.A. has discretion whether to prosecute an offence as a misdemeanor or a felony.
A felony would incur more severe punishment for a defendant.
The decision on whether or what to prosecute Bieber with is the D.A.’s decision, regardless of pressure from the Sheriff’s dept. which no longer has jurisdiction in the egging case.
It is a matter of discretion what D.A. Lacey decides, but if Bieber is handed a misdemeanor rather than a felony charge, that choice is legal under the law.
Notwithstanding the current anti-Bieber sentiment in the US, which saw the singer booed at a recent Los Angeles Clippers game and other events, he is entitled to be judged on the merits of the egging case rather than popular opinion.
Assigning a felon label to a 20-year-old in a case that involves eggs when a range of tough probation alternatives exist isn’t something to be done lightly.
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