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Northstate's avatar

How fair is this punishment?

Asked by Northstate (92points) January 5th, 2008

Okay – A friend of mine…I swear he’s a friend (i.e. – It’s not me) – had a child with his wife of 14 years. Long story shortened – there was a protection order placed on him from her. He calls up to ask his daughter what she wanted for her birthday, thus violating the no contct order, and she reports it. He is then sentenced to a YEAR in jail. Previous to the conviction, however, he was placed in jail with a bond of $99,000 while awaiting court – The maximum in Pierce County, Washington without the offense being a felony.

Now – In Spokane a man got into an argument with another man and told his son to get in the truck and start it. If any trouble arose he would yell to his son “GO!” and the boy was to take off and leave. The man proceeds to tie a noose, the other end of which is tied to the trailer hitch of the now running truck, and wrap it around another mans neck and yells to his son “GO!” – The boy drags the man 13 miles before getting pulled over by a trooper. Thus killing the man.

The guy who tied the noose and yelled go is sentenced to 3 months in jail and 3 years probation. Oh yeah – And the bond…$10,000.

How fair is that?

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7 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I would say that crime #1 is common and has well established laws to determine the punishment. (I don’t think the punishment was that bad for what he did)

Crime #2 is an oddity and nobody had any precedence to go off of. (I think that the punishment is insanely weak)

Number 2 is completely insane and the guy who did it needs to die while incarcerated.

hossman's avatar

Hey, I practiced law in Cook County, Illinois. Don’t look here if you’re looking for consistency in sentencing.

However, two things I have learned: 1) Different judges, different lawyers, different days, different results. Law is an art, not a science. 2 + 2 does not always equal 1 + 4.; and 2) Without knowing the full details, you can never effectively second guess the sentence. There are many details we won’t get here. Were both defendants represented by counsel? Was there a plea bargain, or a trial? Were there mitigating circumstances? Prior patterns of conduct (since an Order of Protection had been issued, there must have been some past bad conduct)?

I don’t know if Spokane and Pierce County are similar, but I can tell you here there is a vast difference in sentencing between counties even though all counties in the state have the same criminal statutes. As an example, McHenry County has traditionally been a rural, very conservative, “law and order” county that tends to give stricter sentences, while Cook County, including Chicago and a number of very populous and high crime, urban areas, is the largest judicial system in the U.S., practically collapsing from its own weight, overworked, and much can fall through the cracks or be treated lightly simply due to a lack of time, personnel and resources.

Northstate's avatar

hossman – Yes, in the past he was conviced of Assault 4 (i.e – Domestic Violence) on his now ex-wife. That happened 3 years prior to this incident. Since the DV, however, he was completly free of any mishaps or run ins with the law. Until the Protection Order violation of course. He was defended by counsel and it did go to trial. But in your experience have you ever heard of such a (in my opinion – biased as it may be) harsh sentence for a single phone call after 3 years? To me that seems SO extreme, especially the $99,000 bond. This guy had a job and a new family and the whole bit – They were not however in the position to afford to spend $9,900 to get him out.

Again, I know I am biased in my opinion, but this seems terribly harsh!

Perchik's avatar

psst hoss- 2+2 never equals 1+4 :D

skfinkel's avatar

They sure showed him they mean business.

hossman's avatar

Oops, thanks for the typo catch, Perchik. I meant 1 + 3.

@ Northstate: while I can’t speak for the sentence in the dragging death, with a prior conviction for domestic violence only 3 years prior, if the OP clearly stated no contact, if the defendant was clearly advised and represented by counsel when the OP was issued, unless there is some reason the defendant is not competent to understand no contact means no contact, I would probably give him the same sentence. This is a different matter than a first offense. The offense here is really not that the guy called his daughter. The offense is contempt of the Court’s order. Unless there was some reason the guy didn’t understand the order, then he exhibited contempt for the judicial system and the judge by not complying. Further, no judge wants to be the guy who lets someone off easy for violating an OP, then the defendant he let off easy kills the ex (it happens) and reporters are sticking a camera in the judge’s face wanting to know why he didn’t protect the ex.

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