The topsy-turvy circus that has been the domestic violence case of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi took another unusual turn this week as he pleaded guilty to one count of false imprisonment under a deal with prosecutors.

By agreeing to the deal, three other misdemeanor charges – domestic violence, dissuading a witness and child endangerment – have all been dropped. Mirkarimi will be sentenced on March 19 to three years probation, one year of weekly domestic violence classes, parenting classes, 100 hours of community service and fines totaling $590.

The case stems from an incident on New Year’s Eve when an argument broke out between Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez. During the argument, prosecutors alleged that Mirkarimi had grabbed and bruised his wife’s arm in front of the couple’s young son.

On January 1, the couple’s neighbor, Ivory Madison, shot a video in which Lopez showed her a bruise on her arm that she said Mirkarimi had inflicted. The video was the crux of many of the pre-trial hearings and late last week, the judge ruled that it would be allowed as evidence in the case.

A stay-away order remains in place as Mirkarimi cannot have any contact with his wife until a family court lifts the restraint, which is expected to happen once he begins attending his domestic violence classes.

The real question is what’s next for Mirkarimi in terms of his position as sheriff. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called for him to step aside as he faced the domestic violence charges; Mirkarimi said he would not do so. Lee has also said he is “deeply troubled” by the charges and guilty plea. Lee said he would confer with his legal counsel about the guilty plea and what that might mean in terms of removing Mirkarimi from his position as sheriff. He said he hopes to come to a decision quickly to resolve the matter.



Photo Credit: Brian Kusler, via Wikimedia Commons