Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Defendant Gets 18 Years

I just recently finished working on a case where I was attempting to provide mitigating evidence for the defense. These are always tough cases, because I want to be helpful to the attorney who hires me, but I often don't find information that is going to be of much use. Sometimes, I actually gather data that ends up being potentially harmful to the defense's position. I hate having to tell defense attorneys that, after a lot of time and money spent, I have nothing for them. But, I do it anyway.

However, in the recent case I mentioned above, I did find information that I thought would offer mitigating evidence at a defendant's sentencing hearing. This was a 19 year-old who pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was facing 10-64 years in prison. His co-defendant received 24 years, but my client received a sentence of 18 years.

I can't be sure, but I think the evidence I found and was able to testify to at his sentencing hearing affected the judge's decision. I was basically able to confirm with psychological data much of what his family members had said about him at the sentencing hearing.

18 years is still a long time, but it felt good to be able to play a part in shortening the defendant's sentence. He definitely did something very bad, but his actions were in part due to some serious mental health issues beyond his control.

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


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