District Attorney Dan Dow issued a statement today, in response to fast-spreading misinformation, to provide a factual update on the status of the criminal case review pertaining to the arrest of Tianna Arata on July 21. The public is urged to be patient while the case review is conducted. Public pressure for a particular outcome will not be considered in making a charging decision.
In response to recent misinformation posted on social media and other outlets, I am taking this opportunity to provide clarity on the status of the investigation involving Tianna Arata and her involvement in the protests within the City of San Luis Obispo on July 21, 2020.
On July 21, the San Luis Obispo Police Department arrested Tianna Arata for conduct she engaged in when participating in protests that occurred on the same date within the City of San Luis Obispo and adjacent sections of northbound and southbound Highway 101. Within hours of her arrest, Ms. Arata was booked and quickly released from the county jail without the requirement of posting a bond. She is not in law enforcement custody. The San Luis Obispo Police Department has completed their investigation, and on August 6 referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office with a recommendation to file criminal charges.
Today, August 10, the district attorney’s office began its review of the referral to determine if criminal charges should be filed, and if so, what charges to bring. The review will involve examination of all of the evidence that includes many social media posts, video evidence, witness statements, and other evidence. It is likely that additional investigation will be necessary before making a criminal filing decision. Additionally, the district attorney’s office is in communication with Ms. Arata’s defense counsel and will consider any evidence or information provided by her counsel in conjunction with the review.
Finally, recent social media posts and other media reports state that Ms. Arata faces 15 years in prison for her conduct. This is patently incorrect and a reckless statement. Due to public safety realignment (AB 109) signed into law in 2011, the charges referred are only eligible to be sentenced to a term in county jail, not state prison. Although the San Luis Obispo Police Department has listed numerous charges that they believe the evidence supports, the decision of what charges to bring is completely within the District Attorney’s authority and responsibility. All individuals charged with a crime are legally presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. Therefore, it is premature to speculate or discuss what possible sentence would be appropriate or warranted.
Ms. Arata is scheduled to appear in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court on September 3. It is anticipated that a decision on whether to file criminal charges will have been made prior to that date.