Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You be the Judge

Another installment where you get to decide the sentence of a person who committed a crime.

Ready for the facts?

Three 25 year old defendants get together and form a plan to make some money. They decide to break into stores after they are closed and steal cash and property. They wear hooded sweatshirts, masks, and gloves, then throw a brick through a window. Once the window is down, they pilfer the interior and steal everything that's not bolted down.

The devastation to these stores gets so bad that the police put a detail on this crew and they are finally stopped because they are caught in the act of a burglary. We can tie about twenty store burglaries to this crew, but we are not sure which of the group are responsible for most of them. They use different combinations of persons every time and with the masks, lack of prints, and lack of DNA it is hard to prove. We have solid video evidence of their faces at some of the locations, and have other videos of these gentlemen cashing in winning lottery tickets that they stole (no one ever said criminals were smart).

We know they did more, but feel confident we can prove three burglaries for each defendant. They plead guilty before indictment to two of the burglaries. So the sentence range for all three of them is anywhere from probation to 15 years in jail.

Here's the break down. Defendant 1 has a prior felony conviction for a burglary. Defendant 2 has a pending case for the same type of crime, but it is in a different county. Defendant 3 has no prior record.

What should happen to them? The same sentence? Different sentences? No one is hurt in any of these crimes, but the store owners' business is affected due to the damage and stolen property. Leave comments or send emails with your thoughts and I'll post what the judge does after all three men are sentenced.

More like this:


  1. As someone who is not a lawyer and does not know the law beyond what I see on TV shows (hah!), I'm thinking that defendant one is going to potentially face the stiffest sentence because of his prior conviction. I think past convictions impact sentencing, but I'm not sure about pending.

  2. I'm a prosecutor in Virginia, and assumed a few things (no other special details for any of them, no record beyond what you listed, and #1 is still on the good behavior requirement for his prior burglary):

    Virginia would recommend Probation / No Incarceration for #2 & #3 and a midpoint of 1 year and 11 months for #1.

    That said, the scope of this enterprise would cause me to ask the judge to deviate significantly higher from the guidelines. Personally, I'd ask for 2 years (1 year for each burglary) for #2 and #3, 5 years for #1 (because he'd already done this same thing), and I'd try to get #1's suspended sentence (if any) revoked. I'd also send a nice certified copy of #2's conviction to the neighboring county.

    I'd also ask for drug counseling, that the men not be allowed to have any contact with each other in the future, and that each man write a letter of apology to each business.

    But that's me. All three of our regular judges are former prosecutors.

    1. I love seeing how different jurisdictions work. I'm worried about seeing very low sentences for these guys.

  3. #1 should go to prison for sure since they have a prior conviction for the same offense. If they commit a lot of burglaries it could be likely that they were the major planner in the operation.

    #2 should go to prison but for a lesser time than #1, but if convicted on both cases they should add the total sentence time up instead of letting them continue the clock concurrently.

    #3 i think it would be fair to give them a strict probation since its their first known offense all around. maybe the sentence is contingent on them filling in the details/aiding the prosecution in some capacity.