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San Mateo Criminal Defense Blog

Plea Bargain Options Considered in Child Porn Case Involving Ex-San Mateo County Official

Stuart Forrest could avoid state prison time in a case where he was accused of allegedly possessing child pornography while working for San Mateo County as a probation officer, according to a news article at Mercury News.  The maximum penalty Forrest may face if convicted on two felony charges is three years and eight months in prison; however, on Tuesday April 9 prosecutors and defense lawyers discussed possible plea bargain options with the judge in a hearing held at San Mateo County Superior Court.

Robert Atack, a retired Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge and the state Attorney General’s office are handling Forrest’s case due to the fact that he was employed by the county’s criminal justice system for decades.  Atack commented during the hearing that unless there is more evidence, he would find it difficult to send Forrest to state prison.

While the evidence in the child pornography case against Forrest has not been revealed publicly, he has no criminal record and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.  He waived his right to an evidentiary preliminary hearing on April 9; these hearings are typically where prosecutors offer their most compelling evidence.  Forrest pleaded not guilty on February 22 of this year at his arraignment hearing in Redwood City’s San Mateo Superior Court.  He allegedly possessed child pornography in December of 2012.

San Mateo County DA Steve Wagstaffe turned Forrest’s case over to Attorney General Kamala Harris due to the fact that he had worked the defendant in various professional capacities in the past.  The pornography possession charges against Forrest stem from a U.S. Postal Inspector Service federal investigation according to a news article at KTVU.

Jaime Leanos, Forrest’s defense attorney, stated in court that he would seek to have the felony charges reduced to misdemeanors.  While deputy attorney general Johnette Jauron said that state prosecutors want to see Forrest imprisoned, she would be satisfied with the defendant accepting a plea bargain on a single child pornography charge.  The case was initially investigated at the federal level; it has not been made public why authorities passed Forrest’s case on to state prosecutors.

Forrest is out of jail on $100,000 bail and is scheduled back in court for settlement discussions and arraignment on May 7 if the issue is not resolved prior to that date.

San Mateo sexual offense attorneys know that individuals convicted of an offense that is sexual in nature face serious consequences including possible jail/prison time, fines, and being labeled as a sex offender.  In this situation, it doesn’t appear that the state has a solid case against the defendant, a man who was seemingly a respected member of society.

If you or a loved one have been charged with child pornography possession or any sex-related offense, consult with an experienced and aggressive San Mateo criminal defense lawyer immediately for legal guidance and representation.

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