Probationer pleads guilty to reckless driving with child in car in Temecula

A probationer who was driving under the influence, with her child in the car, when she fled from sheriff’s deputies pleaded guilty today to felony and misdemeanor charges and was immediately sentenced to four years probation.

Janice Anne Castro, 39, of Aguanga was arrested in March after a vehicle pursuit that turned into a foot chase near Temecula.

On the day a preliminary hearing was scheduled to begin at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, the prosecution and defense announced that a plea agreement had been reached.

Castro admitted felony counts of reckless driving and child endangerment, as well as a misdemeanor allegation of driving under the influence of drugs. In exchange, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped a felony evading charge and any intention to seek jail time for the defendant.

Superior Court Judge Judith Clark certified the plea agreement and ordered that, in lieu of jail, Castro spend 140 days in a sheriff’s work release program, requiring her to remain gainfully employed.

On the afternoon of March 21, a deputy patrolling Redhawk Parkway noticed a black 2011 Mazda 3 hatchback whose driver was speeding through stop signs. The deputy, who was on a motorcycle, signaled the driver – later identified as Castro – to stop, but she refused, according to Sgt. Steve Fredericks.

He said Castro drove “several laps” around Redhawk Parkway, at the loop for Vail Ranch Parkway, going through stop signs and lights before finally heading north on Margarita Road, then turning south on state Route 79.

The pursuit continued past the city limits, according to Fredericks, who said the driver turned onto Dugan Drive from SR 79. The Mazda proceeded into a hilly area with dense vegetation, ultimately becoming disabled in a ditch, he said.

According to Fredericks, Castro bailed out of the car with her young son and a passenger, fleeing into an industrial yard, where she tried to catch a ride on a tractor-trailer leaving the location.

Deputies arrived moments later and arrested her without further incident, Fredericks said. The passenger was detained for questioning but not booked into jail.

Castro’s child was placed in the care of county Child Protective Services.

According to court records, the defendant was on probation for one of two prior misdemeanor shoplifting convictions at the time of her arrest.

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