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Sometimes optimal outcome in criminal case isn’t what’s expected

Jun 21, 2017 | Criminal Defense

Sometimes circumstances when we are in a frail mental state can lead to irrational behavior. If that behavior gets you charged with a criminal act, even if it isn’t one of violence, what should the punishment be upon conviction?

Some months ago, a story made headlines that likely elicited chuckles from readers. An elderly man reportedly went to a bank in his hometown and proceeded to rob it. He didn’t brandish a weapon but a note indicated he had one. When he got the money from a fearful teller, he went and sat in the bank lobby until his arrest. He later told authorities that he had committed the crime because he’d had a fight with his wife and felt he’d be happier in jail. He did not get what he wanted.

Serving the interest of justice

The 71-year-old man pleaded guilty in January to stealing nearly $3,000. Last week, a federal judge sentenced him to six months of home confinement and 50 hours of community service. He’ll also have to pay hundreds of dollars in victim compensation fines and serve three years of supervised probation.

At the sentencing, the defendant expressed remorse and apologized. His attorney pointed out that her client had no past criminal record, had been a good father to his stepchildren and that the relationship with his wife is stable.

The defendant himself explained that he had been depressed since 2015, when he underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery. He didn’t know it was depression, though. He thought he was just irritable. He says he’s on medication now and life is normal again.

While everyone probably knows of one marriage where the spouses don’t get along, it’s sad to think that conditions at home could be so bad that they would drive a person to such drastic action. Fortunately, in this case, seeing the bigger picture about the defendant’s psychological health led the court to leniency.

The sentence received wasn’t what the defendant sought at the time, but it’s clearly what all sides found to be right in the interest of justice.