Not all trial victories come in the form of a "not guilty."
For two years I've been battling with a prosecutor over a case in
which my client was charged with Robbery with a Firearm, Aggravated Assault
with a Firearm and Grand Theft.
My young client screwed up by putting himself in a bad situation that
got out of hand. While deserving punishment, I firmly believed the 10
year minimum mandatory (day-for-day) prison sentence the State of Florida
was offering him was not right.
When the Florida Legislature applies a minimum mandatory sentence to a
crime, the Judge loses all sentencing discretion. Only the Office of the
State Attorney can make an offer lower than the minimum mandatory sentence.
In this case, Robbery with a Firearm carries a ten year minumum sentence
and a maximum of life in prison. Unless the State Attorney agreed to waive
it, the Defendant would serve every day of a ten year sentence without
being eligible for any gain time. The State Attorney wouldn't waive,
the judge had no discretion and I refused to let my client go to jail
for ten years. Thus, we prapared for trial.
This case has been exhausting from beginning to end. It started with having
to fly home early from a Vegas vacation when law enforcement decided to
drop a second warrant on my client after he already bonded out of jail.
A few months later, when I was in Pennsylvania for depositions, I got
stuck in Philadelphia for the night when weather caused my flight to cancel.
Finally, today I killed my tire as i clipped a curb parking while juggling
shoving a sandwich down my throat, reading a transcript and talking on
the phone to the prosecutor as I hurried back to trial from lunch break.
This morning we picked a jury; and this afternoon two years of relentless
endurance paid off.
The prosecutor reduced his offer to 5 years. In spite of the reduction,
I still pushed to get a three year offer and we ultimately met in the
middle at 4 years without a minimum mandatory sentence.
We halted trial and my client entered a plea of Guilty to Robbery with
a Firearm and the remainder of the charges were dismissed.
As the minimum mandatory was waived, he will get gain time for good behavior
and serve 3.4 years.
This case exhausted me but I couldn't give up on a good kid simply
because he screwed up royally. This story didn't end with a Jury verdict
but it also didn't end with my client doing the 12 years of prison
his codefendant is currently serving.
Written by Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Lyle B. Mazin, Esq.