Man accused of shooting woman in Nevada City is free after judge lowers bail
A man arrested in 2019 for allegedly shooting someone in Nevada City was released Wednesday after making bond, attorneys involved in the case said.
Eric Stephen Moffat, 57, of Smartsville, was released from the Nevada County Jail after making his $50,000 bail, jail records show. Moffat has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of shooting at an inhabited dwelling, assault causing bodily injury, and other firearm-related felony enhancements as well, court documents state.
Moffat’s bail was lowered from $250,000 to $50,000 on July 1, as a result of a successful motion filed in June by Moffat’s defense attorney, David Wiksell, records show.
Wiksell couldn’t be reached for comment.
While out of custody, Moffat is subject to pretrial release terms specified by Nevada County Superior Court, including mandatory electronic monitoring and a court order prohibiting him from having any contact with the victims of his alleged crimes. He is also prohibited from possessing a firearm, per court documents.
Moffat had been held in custody continuously since his original arrest in 2019 before his release this week, records show.
According to Deputy District Attorney Patrick Beauchamp, the defense’s motion had asked for Moffat’s bail to be lowered in accordance with California laws that stipulate that a defendant’s bond cannot be set above an amount that the defendant can reasonably afford.
The District Attorney’s Office had opposed the motion to lower bail, with Beauchamp arguing that the defendant represented a danger to the public, but Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven ultimately sided with the defense in approving the motion to lower Moffat’s bond.
Moffat’s case has not yet been set for trial. His next court date is an arraignment hearing on Monday.
State laws concerning bail were drastically altered by a March ruling by California’s Supreme Court that found that the state’s existing bail statutes were unconstitutional. In the Humphreys ruling, the court asserted that bail should be reasonably affordable for defendants, unless prosecutors can prove that the accused person is a flight risk or represents a substantial threat to public safety.
The March ruling has resulted in an increased number of lower-level offenders being freed on bond across California, and has had a noticeable impact on bail schedules in Nevada County, according to local law enforcement. Some attorneys have praised the Humphreys decision, calling it a progressive ruling that will provide vital relief to lower-income defendants who previously couldn’t afford bail, while other officials have decried the court’s decision, warning that it will lead to an increase in petty crime.
Moffat was originally arrested in September 2019 at a home on the 1200 block of North Bloomfield Road after he purportedly shot a woman in the hand with a shotgun. After firing the shotgun, Moffat allegedly forced the woman into his car and started driving, later telling authorities that he had been driving the wounded victim to the hospital.
In addition to the woman, police alleged that Moffat had also kidnapped another man involved in the altercation at the North Bloomfield Road address. This individual, who remains unidentified, was later found zip-tied and trapped beneath the floorboards of Moffat’s car. The male victim was not injured, and the kidnapping charges originally filed against Moffat were later dropped, Beauchamp said.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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