A Florida teenager who became famous by flipping off a judge last month received a round of applause in court for cleaning up her act.
Appearing before a different judge for her arraignment on a drug charge in a Miami courtroom Monday, a prim Penelope Soto received high praise for her attitude adjustment.
Soto’s February 4 court appearance went viral when a video captured the 18-year-old making a lewd gesture to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat after he set her bond in a drug possession case.
As a result, the disrespectful teen was held in contempt of court and sentenced to 30 days in prison, WSVNreported.
However, she ended up spending only five days behind bars after issuing an emotional apology to the judge, saying that her behavior was irrational and fueled by Xanax and alcohol.
On Monday, a far more demure young woman appeared in court, looking smart in a dark blouse with her long black locks fastened with a modest hair clip. When addressed by the judge, the 18-year-old smiled and answered politely.
The judge seemed thoroughly impressed with her transformation after learning that Soto had passed all of her drug tests and is regularly attending narcotics anonymous meetings.
About-face: Soto, left, earned a round of applause from the judge, right, after he learned that she had passed all of her drug tests and was attending her support group meetings
Progress report: Soto pleaded no guilty to a drug possession charge, which will be dismissed if she shows the judge that she can stay drug-free and make good choices
If Soto continues on that path, the judge said the drug charge against her will be dismissed.
Soto currently works part-time and said in court that she plans to return to school, which elicited another round of applause from the judge.
‘I wish you well in the program and congratulations,’ he said.
During the hearing, Soto’s attorney entered a written not guilty plea on a drug possession charge. She is due back in court March 27.
The volatile 18-year-old made national headlines last month after a recording of her contentious courtroom confrontation with Judge Rodriguez-Chomat was posted on the site LiveLeak.
The exchange began when Soto was asked about her financial assets
Soto had earlier appeared in court after being arrested for drug possession. After her bond was set she made the offensive gesture
Shock: Soto pulled on her hair and locked shocked as the judge upped her punishment as a result of her behavior
Standing up in court wearing an orange jumpsuit told him she earned $200 a week and said her assets included her jewellery and a car.
When he asked her how much her jewellery was worth, she laughed, and said ‘a lot.’
Realizing her laughter did not reflect the gravity of the situation Judge Rodriguez-Chomat told her: ‘It’s not a joke, you know, we’re not in a club now,’
‘We are not in a club, be serious about it.’
Still looking amused and stroking her hair Soto answered ‘I’m serious about it, you just made me laugh.’
‘You just made me laugh, I apologize. It’s worth a lot of money,’ she continued.
Judge Rodriguez-Chomat asked Soto if she had taken any drugs in the past 24 hours, which she denied.
Throughout the exchange Soto’s facial expressions varied from boredom to amusement and she was constantly moving and flicking her hair.
Throughout the exchange Soto’s facial expressions varied from boredom to amusement and she was constantly moving and flicking her hair
After a second’s hesitation, Judge Rodriguez-Chomat called Soto back and asked for the papers to be handed back to him.
After scribbling on them, he then reset her bond at $10,000, to which a shocked Soto replied: ‘Are you serious?’
As she turned to walk away again Soto gave the finger to Judge Rodriguez-Chomat and said: F*** you.’
Again looking amused Judge Rodriguez-Chomat called Soto back again and gave her a 30-day jail sentence for contempt of court.
Penelope Soto, 18, who made national headlines for flipping off a judge was released from jail Friday after she tearfully apologized for her actions
Soto was set free five days later after she faced Judge Rodriguez-Chomat, saying in a tearful statement that she was under the influence of Xanax and alcohol when she made the offensive gesture.
‘I apologize not only to the court and you, but to my family,’ Soto told the judge with tears in her eyes, WSVN.com reported.