4.07.2008

Sometimes You Just Have To Shake Your Head


Today a court appointed client, with me at her side, entered a guilty plea in exchange for 25 years in TDC. It's the longest plea bargain I've ever consented to. Her crime? Dope. Her minimum possible punishment had she been convicted by a jury? 25 years. Yep, she pled for the minimum of 25 years.

We've got some goofy laws in Texas and one of them is the so called "habitual offender law". It basically says that (1) if you've been convicted of a felony, sent to the pen, and got out, (2) then convicted of another felony, sent to the pen again, and got out, and (3) then commit another felony (third degree or higher), you are then subject to an "enhanced" punishment of no less than 25 years and no more than "life."

I know what you're thinking. Don't cry for me Argen-three-time-tina. (Poor joke, I know.)

Yeah, my client, who wouldn't hurt a fly, has had a couple of trips to the pen. (Once again, for dope.) So a couple of years ago she gets stopped in Bridgeport for a traffic violation, has an outstanding traffic warrant, and then readily admits she has some meth in the car. It was a cut and dry case. Obviously guilty. Obviously had been to the pen twice before. Obviously subject to the "habitual offender" law.

A jury would have no choice but to pick a number between 25 and life. It's an awful position to be in. Bad for me. Worse for her.

The really only loophole would have been to convince the prosecutor, out of a sense of right and wrong, to "waive" one or more of the enhancement paragraphs and, thus, allow her to enter a plea for less than 25. In a sad twist, I actually managed to pull this off a year and half ago when I got the plea bargain down to 20 years. Unfortunately, my client didn't show up for the plea. So the 20 years was off the table. (She was, obviously, arrested later.)

Parole, you ask? Well, she becomes eligible once her real time + good conduct time = 6.25 years. Being eligible for parole doesn't mean she'll be granted parole.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could relate her to Huck Finn, but he went down the river, not up it. Bye Bye..........

Anonymous said...

Sounds kinda severe but this lady seems destine to screw up what's left of her life. What a waste. Now we taxpayers get to house and feed her for several more years - till she gets out and screws up again.

Anonymous said...

Conservative Right Winger Dream! Maybe a Wet ONE!
The usual cliches: that was against the law: she should have known better: serves her right: Oh, her Mama is Proud: Another one off the street: Menace to society: Etc: Right Wing Blah Blah justice is served blah blah, gets what she deserves; blah blah Dubya was not caught, or at least the records do not show it, blah blah.
Cons do no wrong, and want the max for those that do. Blah Blah Liberals this, Liberals that; Blah Blah, Rush says the max for druggies; blah blah....Mark Davis says Blah Blah Rush I love Him Blah Blah. Conservative comment Blah Blah Blah...............

Anonymous said...

Liberal weenie comment, I hate Bush blah blah blah

Anonymous said...

I think I know who she is. Not 100% sure though...

A 25 year PLEA BARGAIN? A murderer gets less than that!

It's appalling that we send people who have never harmed a soul to the pen for 25 years, but we let these SICK CHILD MOLESTERS go free with 10 years probation! A person who does 100 grams of crack a day is still better than a person who molested one child.

George Aguilar beat his wife with a metal pole - twice! Yet he only spent 8 months is county jail.

Anonymous said...

dontcha' mean that she will be eligible for parole when her good conduct time + her actual time served = 6.25 years?

hopefully she will be out in about 4...

Anonymous said...

The sad part is how much money we have wasted on someone who has no respect for the law. Take her out back and shoot her.

Barry, what should we do with people like her? Legalize drugs? What happens when she doesn't have money for drugs? Most likely she will turn to prostitution. Should we legalize that also? What if she starts robbing places to support her habit, should we not punish people for theft? Hell, why don't we do away with the police all together. Let people do what ever they want and if you don't like it you can take the law into your own hands.

Problem solved.

wordkyle said...

1048 - You've got some issues. Seek help.

I had to look up "meth" to learn more about it. (No real-world experience, and too long since 8th grade health class.) When I read that one of the side effects associated with overdose was "formication" I did a double take.

I wish this lady could have got some help before she got to this point.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the 6 and 1/4 years she serves before parole will allow her to break the meth addiction.

Anonymous said...

98% of dope cases get Parole and with your reccomendation Barry there's no doubt she will. Unforfunately she'll end up violating her Parole. Call it job security for yourself.

Anonymous said...

10:08 - right on....and lawyers who don't like the law know what to do....get out there, spend bunches of money and time to run for a state office, get elected and do the hard work to get those laws changed, or accept discouragement. Course there are other kinds of jobs........

...the world belongs to criminals..these days that seems to be the profession that really pays off - yep with our tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

25 years for doing her part in "keeping the economy healthy?"

Think of all the ways her dealer invests, creates jobs, pays taxes, tithes.

There is no justice.

Anonymous said...

12:38 - "take the law into your own hands"?......good idea - it used to work in the old west.

..now they get hauled into a courtroom.....

..lights, camera, action......

..probation and jail.

Anonymous said...

Come on people. There is no reason for this to immediately become a liberal/conservative & tough justice/legalize drugs debate.

The problem with this situation is the "mandatory" portion of the sentencing. It completely takes the concept of justice out of the hands of the trained individuals that are closest to the sitaution. The legislature in Austin has decided that they are smarter than the local individuals directly involved in the case. It puts pressure on the prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and juries to warp the system. Plea to a different crime... Remove paragraphs from the charge... Drop testimony... And then add in the fact that sentences don't actually mean anything b/c we want to sound tough when they are pronounced, even though they are not so tough. 25 years is 6.25 years...or maybe 4 years...WTF?

I don't specifically know what this lady needs or what is available, but I bet the local authorities do. We have created a punishment system that does very little to rehabilitate people. When you add in the "mandatory" it makes it even less flexible in getting a proper result. Our prisons are just a warehouses and this lady is unlikely to learn enough there to kick her habit. That is not effective or economically sound.

Anonymous said...

All you people crack me up... She has broke the law three times!! Leave her there... yes, it does piss me off a little bit that the taxpayers are going to have to support her sorry ass but I would rather have her in there then out on the streets giving "meth" to my children. What is wrong with all of you??

Anonymous said...

Well-balanced opinion, 9:03 AM. The Federal sentencing guidelines are crazy, also--an attempt to allow so-called "discretion" in a mandatory way. If you think that description doesn't make much sense, then you now "understand" the federal sentencing guidelines!!

Anonymous said...

Aren't we going to support her regardless if she is in the pen or not. I am sure she doesn't hold down a job which means she probably gets food stamps or doesn't have health care I am sure you get the point.

Bulldog said...

Why can't we all just get along? Let's all gather up in a circle, hold hands and sing "Kum ba yah"

Anonymous said...

11:36 - you can do just that at the next meeting of the Wise County Republican women.

..or join those non pushy Democrats for a drink and a bit of the tune, "Show me the way to go home"......

Jarhead said...

Here's what I think about the whole situation.

That was against the law: she should have known better: serves her right: Oh, her Mama is Proud: Another one off the street: Menace to society: Etc: Right Wing Blah Blah justice is served blah blah, gets what she deserves; blah blah Dubya was not caught, or at least the records do not show it, blah blah. Cons do no wrong, and want the max for those that do. Blah Blah Liberals this, Liberals that; Blah Blah, Rush says the max for druggies; blah blah....Mark Davis says Blah Blah Rush I love Him Blah Blah. Conservative comment Blah Blah Blah...............

Anonymous said...

God that is crazy. Poor woman. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Denney Crane said...

I wish one of my best friends would have received 25 years on his second drug conviction...he might be alive today. He died from an overdose in his early 30's.

Anonymous said...

Rea they going to give her a furlow period again like they did when she signed for 25 years over a year and a half ago and then went on the run instead of turning herself back in. Doesn't hurt my feelings any that she is getting 25 years.

bigfan said...

what is astonishing to me is the fact that DWI's are a misdemeanor untill it's your third one. possession of meth is a felony, even the first time. DWI's kill more people than actual meth users. if a meth user kills themself, i'm cool with that, but not to many drunk drivers kill themselves, they usually kill the innocent -

Anonymous said...

Once again, she got what she deserves.

wordkyle said...

BG, while not asking you to violate attorney/client privilege, did this lady understand that once more and she would get popped hard? If she did know, how did she rationalize continuing to do what she was doing? To paraphrase Vincent Vega, she shoulda better known better.

Also, since you're the expert, are most people in prison because they're
a) evil;
b) stupid;
c) innocent; or
d) a victim of circumstance (i.e., "wrong place, wrong time")?

Should stupid people get the same jail time as evil people, if their crimes could hurt others?

Anonymous said...

My husband got a DUI in Wise County in 2001. He had car problems in Fort Worth leaving work. He was a hospital pharmacist and was leaving work late at night because he was on the late shift. Got his pickup running with the help of some friends. Got to Decatur and filled up with gas at Allsups on 287. He accidentally hit a curb and the attendant called the Decatur Police. He ended up in the Wise County Jail with a DUI.

Someone from the Decatur Police Dept. took it upon themselves to turn him in to the Texas Pharmacy Association. I would love to know who that person was. That person is totally responsible for my husband's demise. My husband planned on practicing pharmacy for the rest of his life. He had been Asst. Director of Pharmacy at Medical City Dallas for 20 years.

When we moved back to Decatur, my home town, he worked at hospital pharmacies in Fort Worth and was regarded as an excellent pharmacist. Whoever did this to him is responsible for his death. He no longer wanted to live after losing his license. Does anyone from the Decatur Police Dept. want to step up to the plate and let me, his widow know why you chose to treat him this way? I would personally love to know who you are and why you chose to treat him this way.

Anonymous said...

wordy, I'm not BG, but a response is needed. Your questions and scenario may be well-intended, but they miss the point.

Of course she "knew" another conviction would be serious. Her attorney, the prosecutor, the judge, the probation officer and countless others told her so.

You ask, "how did she rationalize continuing", which shows your complete failure to appreciate the situation. Of course she "knew better"...but she's an addict. She is not acting rationally. No rational person would become addicted to drugs. No rational person would become an alcoholic. No rational person would smoke cigarettes. No rational person would drive while drunk. No rational person would shoot the liquor store clerk for $50. Our prisions are full of people who wouldn't be there if they'd acted rationally. In case you haven't noticed, humans don't act rationally in many situations.

Mandatory sentencing and increased penalties may well work to diminish crime among the rational, yet it doesn't do squat for ladies like this.

What you should be asking is...how do we treat a person, educate a person, make a person, and help a person learn to act rationally? How do we get them off drugs forever? The sole answer of putting them in jail doesn't seem to be working.

Most people are in jail...because they commited a crime. I don't see how/why people would be in jail BECAUSE they are innocent. However, evil, stupid, and victim of circumstance are certainly some of the motivations behind committing crime. Others include, jealous, greedy, drunk, high, angry, abused, and mentally unstable.

Are you truly happy with the success, productivity, and benefit we receive from our criminal justice system?

wordkyle said...

708 - Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, you misunderstand the meaning of the word "rationalize."

When I asked how she rationalized her continuing behavior, I wanted to know what she told herself. Barry, as her attorney, would be the closest to her who might be able to answer the question in this forum.

"I didn't think I'd get caught"
"I didn't think they'd really put me in jail"
"I took it by mistake"

These are examples of her possible rationalizing.

Thanks for the rest, though. We are in agreement that those who smoke marijuana knowing that it's illegal are acting irrationally.

Anonymous said...

the way our society treats those convicted of drug crime is the only thing that can nearly make me ashamed to be American.

Anonymous said...

Prison break addiction? My head is going to EXPLODE! What about prison would change a persons brain chemistry? This is exactly the reason why prison is a terrible idea for most drug offenders.

Anonymous said...

9:13,are you retarded,and I mean mouth breathing,gnats flying in and out retarded? "Giving meth. to my children"? You can't really believe that's the way the world works.

Anonymous said...

10:57"i'm sure she doesn't hold down a job" What a strange thing to say,do you often blurt out things you've assumed like that? Very strange.