Not long ago I represented a 26-year-old maintenance worker who made a good living and provided financial support to two children. He’d never been in any sort of trouble before, but one night he and two friends (who’d both been arrested multiple times before) decided to break into a deli. They set off an alarm, and the police found them inside and arrested them.
My client is still shocked he did it. He went out with his friends, got drunk and broke into a store as a stupid prank; they weren’t even trying to take anything.
There wasn’t much we could do regarding the prosecution’s case. The police showed up to the deli at 2:00 AM, my client was present at the deli with the two co defendants and then my client made a full statement admitting to what they had done. I didn’t think we had much of a chance at trial. The judge offered him a plea of six months in jail and five years’ probation – conditional upon the results of a pre-sentence investigation. He accepted.
While probation conducted their investigation, I had time to prepare my own report that gave the judge a true picture of who my client was – including wonderful, praising letters from co-workers, clergy, community leaders and family members. I also explained that he’d lose his job if he were away for six months. The judge agreed that jail wasn’t appropriate for him, and sentenced him to straight probation instead.