L.A. DA cuts deal with rapper Lil Uzi Vert on felony assault charges

Lil Uzi Vert arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Is this a case of celebrity justice, just the progressive policies of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon at work, or maybe a combination of the two?

Whatever the reason, the result is the same. Rapper Lil Uzi Vert, originally charged with three felonies, copped a plea with Gascon’s office allowing him to plead guilty to one felony charge of assault with a firearm along with a misdemeanor charge of injury to a girlfriend. Most importantly, the deal will keep the rapper out of prison, at least if he manages to avoid new charges over the next couple of years.

Instead of spending any time behind bars for the assault, Symere Bysil Woods (Lil Uzi Vert’s given name) will allegedly be spending the next three years on formal probation. TMZ reports the rapper was also told he must receive mental health and substance abuse treatment for the next year, along with domestic violence counseling and an unnamed amount of restitution for his victims.

The gossip site says that Woods is also now subject to a 10-year criminal protective order, and because he pled guilty to a felony, he’s no longer eligible to lawfully possess a firearm going forward.

That may be enough for L.A.’s soft-on-crime prosecutor George Gascon, but with a recall effort against the DA now underway, it will be interesting to see if this high-profile plea deal has any impact on public opinion… or opinions within Gascon’s office.

The association representing more than 800 deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles County announced Friday it will hold a membership vote on whether to endorse the latest effort to recall District Attorney George Gascón.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys “believes that this important question must be answered in a fair, transparent and democratic manner,” the group said in a statement. “In that spirit, we have given the district attorney the opportunity to speak directly to the membership and answer their questions.”

In a letter sent Friday to the county’s top prosecutor, the association’s president, Michele Hanisee, wrote that many of the group’s members have asked the association to take a position on an “unprecedented and pressing public question: whether to recall and replace you as Los Angeles County’s District Attorney.”

“This was not the first time members made this plea,” Hanisee wrote. “Last year, a similar request was made. We took no action … It would be inappropriate for our seven-person Board of Directors (which includes six registered Democrats and one decline-to-state voter) to speak for so many on such an important nonpartisan question. We recognize that our members are uniquely qualified to judge your performance and competency as district attorney.”

More than 30 cities in Los Angeles County have approved “no confidence” resolutions aimed at Gascon’s ouster in recent months, in large part because of similar slaps on the wrist delivered to others who’ve seen their violent felony cases resolved with probation or little time behind bars for serious offenses. The case of Lil Uzi Vert isn’t an anomaly, even if his celebrity status may have also played a role in keeping him out of prison. And while California prosecutors like Gascon and San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin are doing their best to help convicted criminals avoid spending time behind bars, the state’s anti-gun lawmakers are looking for new ways to further restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners and those trying to lawfully keep and carry a firearm for self-defense. Cracking down on legal gun owners while excusing criminal behavior is a recipe for disaster, and given that it’s also California’s preferred public safety strategy at the moment, it’s no wonder so many folks are heading for the exits.