As a criminal defense lawyer, over the years, I have seen people facing prison give up hope and kill themselves. Many years ago, in Ft. Lauderdale, a young man facing prison shot himself with a .22 pistol and bled out talking to 911. Listening to that call was horrific. I know of a situation in Ft. Myers where a man, jointly charged with his wife, took his own life in the mistaken belief he could take all of the blame and save his wife with a confession to the crime. Recently, I know of another person who hung himself just before court. All of the suicides were acts of desperation. People facing decades in prison are desperate. Never give up hope.
When it comes to sex crimes, some of the prosecutor’s offices have a scorched earth policy and seek maximum penalties on all sex crimes. They simply do not understand the statistics when it comes to some of the offenses. Child pornography is a good example. The prosecutors believe that if someone looks at pictures or videos, they will go on to have sex with a minor. That is simply not true. In reality, only a small fraction of people who view kiddie porn go on to act on it. Look at all the people doing basically life sentences on drug trafficking charges. Does the punishment really fit the crime? We have more people in prison in America than any other County in the world. We need to take a long close look at our laws and find alternatives to long prison sentences. Those types of sentences should be reserved for only those offenders who truly are a danger to the public. Putting a man in prison for thirty years for simply looking at pictures is barbaric. The judges need to be educated and the prosecutors need to get a better grip on reality and not pander to the public. Maybe a good start would be making the prosecutor’s office a non elected position. As a criminal defense lawyer, I see the injustices all the time. Things need to change
Probably one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make is whether or not to accept a negotiated plea, a plea bargain, in a sex crime case. When you are charged with a sex crime like traveling to meet a minor, Internet solicitation of a minor, child pornography or date rape, ultimately you have to make a decision as to whether or not to go to trial or negotiate some type of plea. Unlike other types of crimes like possession of cocaine, possession of pill or driving on a suspended license, no two sex crime cases are alike. Every one of them are different. Deciding what to do is a hard call.
Most serious sex crime convictions have terrible consequences. All of them carry possible State prison sentences. That is not the big consequence. The real problem is becoming a registered sex offender. The real problem is becoming a registered sex offender. It affects where you can live, where you can work, where you can travel and your real personal freedom for the rest of your life. Sex offender probation is also tough. You have curfew, have to wear an electronic monitor, cannot live within a thousand feet of designated places like schools and have to go to all kinds of therapy, evaluation and counseling.
You only get good plea deals when you have an attorney that knows how to raise good defenses and negotiate with the prosecutors. You only get good deals from a position of strength and having a good chance of winning if you go to trial. The prosecutors almost always start off offering State time in prison as well as a sex conviction. It all depends on how strong the case is, whether or not the witnesses are strong and how bad the evidence is against you. Sex cases are tough but not impossible. Even when the cases seem hopeless and the evidence is against you, a good lawyer may be able to do damage control and get you a plea deal for a lesser offense or a lower sentence. Never give up hope.
I have resolved dozens of sex crime traveler cases in the last few years. In half of them we were able to get the charges reduced to non sex offenses like attempted child abuse, unlawful use of a two way communication device or some other computer crime. This is important because in those cases the client did not become a registered sex offender. In the non sex offense resolutions most of the men got probation. In the remaining cases where the evidence was overwhelming we were still able to get low sentences when we could show that the men were not really sex predators but merely made a terrible mistake in judgment.
You have to weigh the strength of the State’s case against the consequences of losing. The State also weighs the strength of their case against the defense lawyer they are coming up against. If the lawyer has not handled sex sting cases and is not familiar with defending them, generally, he will not get as good a deal. If the lawyer has not raised good defense issues, he will not get a good offer. In these types of cases the experience of the lawyer really matters a lot. Not all cases are winners. In some cases it is damage control. Having a good damage control lawyer can make a difference in years of your life. If you want to talk about your sex crime case feel free to call at 941 366 3506 or visit Sarasotaderdefender.com