Metro Weekly

California man will only face 6 months in prison for attacking transgender woman with skateboard

Plea deal saw a felony count of assault reduced to a misdemeanor, and eliminated sentencing enhancements for a hate crime charge.

california, trans, transgender
Johnny Moreno – Photo: Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

A 23-year-old California man has been sentenced to six months in jail, after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors stemming from an attack against a transgender woman last month.

Johnny Santos Moreno, of Costa Mesa, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault, plus a felony charge of violation of civil rights with violent injury, and an additional felony charge of dissuading a witness by force.

Moreno agreed to a plea deal under which the hate crime sentencing enhancement — which normally would have been tacked onto the felony charge — was dismissed and the felony assault charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

Under the original charges, Moreno could have potentially faced up to eight years in prison.

Moreno, who had been held in custody since his arrest on March 11, has also been placed on two years of formal probation, according to the Orange County Register

According to prosecutors, Moreno encountered a transgender woman and began hurling homophobic slurs at her.

The altercation escalated, with Moreno using his skateboard to hit the victim repeatedly. A driver passing by saw the attack and called police, at which point Moreno threatened to harm the witness. 

The LGBTQ Center of Orange County previously weighed in on Moreno’s crime, writing in a Facebook post, “This incident is disturbing, and acts of violence against our community will not be accepted. We see that there is an alarming rise in anti-trans bills and lack of protections for trans people in this current climate.”

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