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Encinitas Watchdogs founder Jeff Morris has pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Screenshot
Encinitas Watchdogs founder Jeff Morris has pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Screenshot
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Watchdogs founder pleads not guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges

ENCINITAS — A former Encinitas mayoral candidate arrested at his home following a family dispute on Christmas Day pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges at his Jan. 9 arraignment in Vista Superior Court.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has charged Encinitas Watchdogs founder Jeff Charles Morris with three misdemeanor offenses, including corporal injury to spouse and/or roommate, battery of a current or former significant other, and false imprisonment.

Paul Neuharth, a San Diego-based attorney representing Morris, told The Coast News there was no physical violence at home, and no one was injured in the incident that resulted in Morris’ arrest at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Dec. 25 at his residence.

Jeff Morris Criminal Complaint_Redacted

Above is a copy of the criminal complaint against Morris

According to Neuharth, Morris had attempted to stop an argument between his wife and their 23-year-old daughter, who was visiting for the holidays.

“I know his wife and oldest daughter were having a heated argument,” Neuharth said. “(Morris) got involved in the middle of it, breaking them up. At some point, somebody called the police, and Jeff was arrested. There was no physical violence. He wasn’t fighting with his wife. (Morris) and his wife have a strong, stable relationship.”

Morris was booked into county jail on Christmas and released on a $50,000 bond the following day. According to Neuharth, these arrests are typically booked as felonies before later being charged as misdemeanors.

Under California law, law enforcement is encouraged to arrest alleged “domestic violence offenders if there is probable cause that an offense has been committed” and “shall make reasonable efforts to identify the dominant aggressor in any incident.”

Details of the incident remain unclear due to the sensitivity afforded to domestic violence cases, according to Sheriff’s Department Lt. Chris Lawrence, leaving unanswered questions related to Morris’ arrest.

“We will sit down (with prosecutors) to discuss what we have and what they have and see what resolution we can reach,” Neuharth said.
Morris has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he faces between 1-2 years in local jail, according to the DA’s office. In November’s mayoral race, Morris finished third with 24.52% (or 6,969 votes) behind Cindy Cremona (25.5%) and winner Tony Kranz (47%).
A firearms relinquishment hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 11 in Department 14 at the Vista courthouse, followed by a readiness conference at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 in Department 1. If some plea agreement is not reached, a jury trial is scheduled for 8:50 a.m. on Feb. 14 in Department 5.
For the latest crime reports in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar, please visit The Coast News’ Weekly Crime Reports. For up-to-the-minute arrest reports in North County, check out Daily Arrest Logs. Read more local crime news here.

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