The Messenger reports that Rebecca Simpson was found guilty by a jury at 9:45 a.m. this morning. Here is what happens next: The case will begin with a punishment phase (the jury doesn't get to go home, they have more work to do). The State is allowed to present evidence of any past convictions or probations, "extraneous offenses" (that is, crimes that could have led to convictions but have not), and any "bad acts" that Simpson has committed in the past. (The "bad acts" law went into effect around 1993, but it normally isn't a very big player.) Sometimes the State has a lot of evidence. Sometimes the State has none. The defense can put on any witness that will persuade the jury that a lesser punishment is appropriate. The defense, in order to have the probation option available to the jury, must put on a witness to prove Simpson has never before been convicted of a felony. The jury will get a verdict form that tells them to pick a sentence between 5 and 99 years/life. The jury (if it picks a number of 10 years or less), will have the option to recommend to the judge that they wish for the sentence to be probated. The judge is bound by the jury's recommendation of probation (if there is one). If there is a prison sentence without probation, is the Defendant immediately taken to jail to begin the sentence? That's a good question. A person can normally post bond pending an appeal if the sentence is 10 years or less. But this case is different. I am of the opinion that the solicitation of capital murder is a type of crime that is excluded from that rule. Thus, any prison sentence will prevent an appeal bond. (I could be wrong, but I feel pretty good about this.) If there is a probated sentence, does that prevent the defendant from serving any jail time? Nope. The judge can impose a 180 day sentence in the local jail as a condition of probation.
at 10:05 AM