Judges have a difficult job when they are faced with handing out sentences that are fair to the defendant yet punitive enough to satisfy the victims. When a defendant shows genuine remorse for a crime, judges often take that into consideration during the sentencing phase of the process as one Missouri man is now finding out.
A 25-year-old man was recently sentenced for the crime of involuntary vehicular manslaughter due to intoxication resulting from an April 2013 incident that resulted in the death of a 57-year-old man. The young man had been drinking at a tavern earlier in the evening, and witnesses reported that he had appeared intoxicated. Later that evening, it is believed that the same young man drove through a red light while talking on his cellphone before crashing his truck into a motorcycle, killing the rider. He pleaded guilty in May and demonstrated sincere remorse in front of the judge.
He was ultimately sentenced to a seven-year prison term for the involuntary manslaughter charge and four years for leaving the scene of the accident. The judge went one step further and ruled that the sentences would run concurrently, but then suspending them in lieu of a 120-day callback sentence. If he completes the 120 days without incident, he will be put on probation.
State corrections records show that this type of sentence for a crime this severe is not unusual. In fact, 80 percent of those sentenced for the same DWI charge in Jackson County from 2009 through 2013 received probation as well. Statewide, the number is closer to 65 percent. While the family of the man who lost his life was not happy with the sentence, it was in line with typical sentences and any more may have been construed as unfair or overly punitive.
Those charged with or convicted of a similar crime should be aware of typical sentencing structures. Legal counsel can help to ensure that those convicted also receive a fair sentence and that the victim’s family’s anguish does not sway the judge.
Source: The Kansas City Star, “Drunken driver sentenced in accident that killed Belton man” Brian Burnes and Crystal Thomas, Jul. 11, 2014