My Criminal, Part 1

21 Apr

I have spent too many hours representing criminal defendants.  While on active duty at Great Lakes, I represented sailors who were charged with

  • wrongfully using of a controlled substance,
  • being absent without leave,
  • having deserted,
  • appropriating property of another sailor or the United States government,
  • failing to obey a lawful order, and
  • assaulting another sailor.

My civilian legal career as a defense attorney concerned traffic violations, assault, and drug cases.

My criminal practice focused on damage control.  Given the potential sentence, what was the minimum sentence that I could achieve for my client.

Personally, I am fortunate. It’s taken over 60 years to become a victim of crime.  In early December an individual entered my home and stole three .22 caliber rifles, a .22 caliber revolver, a .410 shotgun, and a .38 caliber revolver.  All of these firearms had been inherited from my father.

The perpetrators were caught.  The story I heard was that an older man was teaching his perspective son-in-law the business.

I have frequently made the argument that my client shouldn’t be severely punished because of his or her circumstances (damage control).  However, hearing that argument being made for the person who stole my firearms, i.e., the perspective son-in-law, irritated me.

  • Yes, it’s too bad that two months before entering my house to commit a theft offense you had made friends with heroin, and it had taken control of your life.
  • Yes, it’s too bad that your two daughters under the age of 5 will be without a father for a while.

Perhaps those are things that should have been considered BEFORE committing these offenses.

For some strange reason, incarceration and restitution just didn’t seem appropriate … it wasn’t enough.  I wanted more.

When the victim’s advocate asked what I wanted to happen, a number of options flashed through my head:

  • pillory
  • branding
  • lashes
  • loss of right hand

In the end, I admitted that I had many thoughts about what would considered an appropriate punishment; however, all of my thoughts would have violated the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Have we become too soft on crime?

Just think about it!

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