Now, the following story may initially come across as a bit of "weird news," one of those things you hear second-hand that doesn't quite seem plausible. But, a case involving a 72-year-old who pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge may leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling about the criminal justice system.
You may be wondering, 'how is it possible for a convicted drug criminal story to have a happy ending?' Of course, drug crimes are serious offenses that need to be handled appropriately -- nothing changes that.
But the man in this story, at 72 years old, wanted to celebrate his 73rd birthday. In order to do that, he had to be set free before he was sentenced. Sometimes judges will accommodate a criminal defendant in a situation like this. However, the elder man was pleading guilty to a Class A felony (seven years in jail), which does not allow someone to walk pending the sentencing hearing.
The judge handling the 72-year-old's case came up with a solution though. He offered the elder man two choices. On one hand, he could plead guilty to a Class B felony (12.5-25 years in jail) and be freed for his 73rd birthday, and then rescind his plea (barring there was no criminal activity during his freedom) upon sentencing, when the charge would return to a Class A felony.
A bit convoluted, but an option none the less. Then the judge offered to adjourn the 72-year-old's case until after his birthday, which would accommodate his 73rd birthday request. The elder man agreed to the adjournment.
He is still on the hook for seven years in prison, and obviously his violation of the law is still a serious one. But, it is nice to see that a sensible and humane solution could be brought to the table for the defendant.
Source: The Post-Standard, "Court Notebook: Defendant seeks to celebrate birthday before starting drug sentence," Jim O'Hara, May 28, 2012