TMZ has learned ... Sean Penn -- who was charged with battery in connection with a paparazzi run-in last October -- has just copped a plea in his criminal case.
Penn -- who was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and battery by L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich -- pled no contest this AM to one count of vandalism. The battery charge was dismissed.
Penn was placed on 36 months probation and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service. The judge said Penn's work for his Haitian relief organization will count toward his 300 hours, but his prior volunteer work won't count -- it's 300 hours going forward.
Penn was also ordered to perform 36 hours of anger management, which can be done through a private therapist.
If Penn successfully completes his probation his vandalism conviction will turn into a disturbing the peace conviction -- a lesser offense.
But there's more. Penn must stay 100 yards away from the victim. A restitution hearing over the pap's camera and medical bills is set for July 8.