O.C. Sheriff's Deputy Charged With Attacking Girlfriend at Rancho Santa Margarita Home

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File photo of an Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy’s badge. (Credit: KTLA)

An Orange County sheriff’s deputy is facing felony charges for allegedly attacking his girlfriend after a birthday party in January, prosecutors said Thursday.

Kyle Edward Pickard, 28, of Rancho Santa Margarita, is charged with domestic battery, making criminal threats and false imprisonment by violence or menace, the O.C. District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Pickard pleaded not guilty Thursday. If convicted as charged, he could face up to three years in state prison, the DA’s office said.

Thursday’s announcement was the first time the allegations were made public. But the Sheriff’s Department says Pickard was originally arrested around 2 a.m. Jan. 19, when deputies responded to a domestic violence call at a home in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Pickard was released on bail and immediately placed on administrative leave. He has not returned to work since, said Carrie Braun, a spokesperson for the department.

The deputy was taken back into custody Thursday before being released on $50,000 bail, prosecutors said.

Pickard joined the Sheriff’s Department in July 2011 and was working in patrol at the time of his arrest, officials said.

“I expect members of the Sheriff’s Department to behave in a manner that is fitting of a law enforcement officer both on and off duty,” Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement. “We hold ourselves to a high standard and hold our employees accountable when that standard is not met.”

O.C. DA Todd Spitzer said it’s a “sad day” when a law enforcement official is criminally charged.

“As a sworn peace officer, he sees this type of violence in his career all too often and he should know there are other options,” Spitzer said in a statement. “Violence is never the answer.”

Pickard is scheduled to return to court March 19.

The sheriff’s Family Protection Detail handled the investigation.

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