What Is My Sentence?
Monday, I had to witness a family grieve over their son, brother and friend being sentenced to 364 days in jail. Such a sight is normally not uncommon for me, but this day was different. The defense attorney was a young woman who I would have described as timid. Her client pled guilty to third degree endangering the welfare of a child. The child was a past middle school student of his. The plea agreement called for probation and the possibility of jail time as a condition to receiving the probation.
From the moment the family entered the courtroom and filled up one whole row, you could see the anticipation on their faces. Both the State and counsel made their arguments and the court rendered its decision of three years probation with 364 days in jail. It wasn’t until the officer placed the man in handcuffs that the ruling finally hit the family. The room erupted with cries and questions of why and this wasn’t suppose to happen. The young defense attorney was left having to explain what happened to the family.
Consensus among the other attorneys in the room was that the young woman must not have told the family he could get jail time. Such a sentence appeared to be a shock to them. As a defense attorney myself I always make my client aware of the sentence he could receive. Not being forward, no matter how you feel a person may react, is not a way to practice law. Everyday our clients trust us with their freedom. It is of vital importance that they know the costs of their decisions. I will never know if that young woman ever told her client he could go to jail, but I hope she did.
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