Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley has determined that Paula Lopez is eligible for the county's misdemeanor diversion program.
If Lopez decides not to enroll in the rehabilitation classes, she will be criminally prosecuted.
Dudley said that public intoxication is a charge that qualifies someone for the program.
NewsChannel 3 anchor Paula Lopez is back in the spotlight. This time, she was arrested for public intoxication.
Lopez was arrested near her home Monday afternoon by Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies. She was taken to Santa Barbara County Jail, booked for public intoxication and later released with a citation. According to a Sheriff's Department spokesperson, being released with a citation for this crime is common.
Lopez released this statement regarding her arrest: “I have been in professional medical treatment for the disease of alcoholism for a number of months. I have dealt with anxiety and depression for many years. Excessive self-medication is a fairly recent phenomenon for me. It has increased over time. I have had substantial periods of abstinence and sobriety.
"As can occur in the recovery process, I have also had failures and relapses. I know that most people have a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or know of someone who has been impacted by substance abuse. They understand the scourge and pain that befalls those close to the diseased individual. Much was written about my prior medical circumstances. All that was released to the media regarding my medical circumstances was true. But it was not complete. That is no longer the case.
"From your expressions, I know that vast multitudes of you understand my plight and sympathize with my circumstances. Others of you cannot, and never will. I am extremely humbled and grateful for those who do. I ask forgiveness of those who cannot.”
NewsChannel 3’s general manager Mark Danielson, said in a statement, “I am aware of the recent developments with Paula Lopez but I am unable to comment on any employee's health or personnel issues. I will continue to monitor the developments closely, but as I am sure you can understand, I am unable to release any further statements concerning Paula."
It was just a couple of months ago when Lopez made headlines when her family reported her missing. Later that same day, she reunited with her family at home. Lopez said she was having medical issues that day.
The District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case to determine what charge or charges will be filed. District Attorney Joyce Dudley said her office plans to make a decision on it by Thursday afternoon.
Lopez is married to Frank Ochoa, a Superior Court judge. A spokesperson for the Santa Barbara Superior Court said at this time, it does not have a comment regarding the case because there is no case yet.
NewsChannel 3 will continue to monitor this story and bring the latest details as they become available.
***Editors note: Andrew Gray, the reporter assigned to this story, has briefly met but does not personally know Paula Lopez. Andrew was picked to report on this story to provide the public with an unbiased perspective.