Prosecutors file criminal charges against 46 Occupy arrestees

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Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against 46 people arrested after an LAPD operation to clear the Occupy L.A. encampment around City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles earlier this week. The remaining 246 people arrested have either bailed out or were released, officials said Friday.

“We’re still in the process of getting through all the arraignments and releases,” said Lt. Chris Branuelas of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at about 5 p.m. Friday. Branuelas supervises the Central Jail Arraignment Courts.

Those arrested had been brought to the CJAC facility and into Sheriff’s custody early Friday morning. For Friday, LAPD had 187 people assigned for release Friday and 27 people scheduled for arraignment, Branuelas said. Processing started at 7 a.m. and Branuelas expected it to continue until at least 6 p.m.

“They either have to go home or go back to the jail,” Branuelas said. “We’ll be here until they get done.”

Branuelas said they were still churning through paperwork that is part of an extensive release process to ensure there are no other warrants out for them and to confirm their identity, among other issues.

Since Thursday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has received and reviewed 233 cases from the Los Angeles Police Department, said Earl Thomas, chief of the criminal division for the L.A. City Attorney’s Office.

The remaining 59 people (out of the total 292 arrests by the LAPD) were likely those who bailed out or were released for medical reasons, Thomas said. Those cases will likely be sent for review and possible filing of charges by the City Attorney’s Office in the next days. However, officials were focused on processing those remaining in custody within the required 48 hours after their arrest.

Most of those released qualified for a pre-filing diversion program, which allows nonviolent offenders without a criminal record to choose to complete a 90-day educational program to avoid prosecution for a $375 or $400 fee, Thomas said. He said they will receive information on the program in the mail.

The City Attorney’s Office can still file charges for a year according to the statute of limitations, Thomas said.

“If they complete the program and stay out of trouble for that year, while the statute is running, they have an opportunity to keep their record clear,” Thomas said.

The curriculum includes information about being a good citizen, the government, constitutional rights and the consequences of an arrest, among other issues. The course can be completed from home and fee payment can be made in installments, Thomas said. He said officials are looking at bringing in constitutional experts on the First Amendment including retired Supreme Court Justices to talk to participants.

The City Attorney’s Office made a request Thursday to include a condition within the release that would prevent people from returning to the City Hall lawn, but the court apparently denied that request, Thomas said. He said the Office has not had a chance to review cases processed Friday.

Those arraigned Friday and are likely people who have outstanding warrants or a parole or probation violation, said NLG executive vice-president and attorney Carol Sobel, who has been advising those arrested. She said 183 people had been released Friday.

Of the 46 arraigned, it is possible some will return to jail if they cannot, or choose not to, post bail, officials said.

About 240 people remained in jail Thursday night, police said. On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against 19 people arrested. Their bail was set at between $5,000 and $20,000 depending on the charges, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Sobel, who has advised the protesters, was not sure what the details of their release were. The City Attorney’s Office filed charges on 19 people scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. Jail and court officials said seven people were ultimately arraigned Thursday; the remainder might have been pushed to Friday.

All but two of those arraigned had their bail lowered to zero and were released, Sobel said. One woman’s bail amount was $5,500 because she had restitution she had not made on a prior case, Sobel said.

The majority of those who had charges filed against them were for one misdemeanor count of failing to disperse, according to the City Attorney's Office.

Tyson Header, 35, of Valencia, was charged Thursday with three counts: battery on a peace officer, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest, according to the City Attorney’s Office. His bail was set at $10,000 for allegedly spitting on an officer and resisting arrest, Sobel said. Another person was arrested for interfering with police operations, said Officer Karen Rayner, a spokeswoman for the LAPD.

About 1,400 LAPD officers moved into the park early Wednesday arresting 292 people primarily for failing to disperse from the area around 1st and Broadway once police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly. They ended the roughly 60-day occupation of the park.

Tami Abdollah can be reached at tabdollah@kpcc.org and http://www.twitter.com/LATams.

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