Judge for a day – IV

“Tring tring”

“Hello, how may I help you today?”

“One robbery, please.”

“For here or to go?”

“To go, please.”

“Okay, your total is one smack on the head, plus tax.”

Fine, so that’s not exactly how the conversation went when two would-be robbers called a local bank and informed the person on the phone that they would be stopping by in a few to pick up their order of cash.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Sgt. James Perez, Fairfield police spokesman, told the Post. “They literally called the bank and said to have the bag of money ready on the floor because they’re coming to rob the place.”

Then, true to their word, they showed up – just as police were coming to greet them.

One is a 16-year old juvenile and the other, 27, is on probation for – wait for it – robbing a bank. Prison may not have cured him of his bank-robber-itis, but it sure did teach him some manners.

[This is just an extreme example of the dire mopiness of most of our clients. An overwhelming number of clients that we here at ‘a public defender’ represent are sad souls, lost in the quagmire of a dead end life. Most aren’t very educated and very few are even street savvy. They’re just fools, for the most part, who make bad mistakes without thinking of the consequences. Drugs, alcohol and poverty play a significant role in their motivations for committing crimes. Very few of them, however, have the common courtesy to call ahead.]

So it’s time to return to one of my favorite games: judge for a day (previous installments here, here, here and here). Imagine you’re the judge who is to affix a sentence to those two simpletons. You know what I know: one is a juvenile (assume that he his record is non-existent or minimal) and the other is somewhat older and on probation for robbing a bank. Also assume that the older guy owes about 5 years on probation.

Your options are: a nolle, some form of alternative to incarceration program (see 53a-39a to 39d and other diversionary programs start here), probation for a misdemeanor, conditional discharge for a misdemeanor, probation for a felony or a CD for a felony, or just straight up time in the slammer with or without probation.

The robbery statutes are from here on down and the larceny statutes start here. The terms of incarceration are here and terms of probation are here.

So, Judge Intrepid Reader, how would you dispense your justice?

8 thoughts on “Judge for a day – IV

  1. Darrowess

    There is something very redeeming in a guy who has the courtesy to call ahead. He doesn’t want to cause fear, inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. He just wants the money. Admit and continue. And require him to earn his GED as well as a degree. This man can be a bona fide thief, like an investment banker, accountant, or a used car salesman!

    As for the kid, suspended sentence and probation. If boot camp were an option in the Constitution state, then that’d be a remedial measure likely to ensure that any future temptation will be cured by the consequences to follow – he too can be a bona fide thief!

    1. Gideon Post author

      Except for the part where they threatened a “bloodbath”, but we don’t need to remind anyone of that 😉

      I don’t think the guy on probation will get admit and continue. Realistically, I think he’s looking at time.

  2. Jeremiah

    Hi Gideon. I love these exercises, so I’ll bite. 🙂

    If I were judge, I’d throw out the larceny because it appears they never actually received any property. I don’t know that a phone call passes for “defrauding the public community.”

    But I guess it gets sticky, because robbery is defined as “in the course of committing a larceny” which I’ve just thrown out, right?

    Anyway, your question was about sentencing, not procedure.

    For me, I’d give the kid a misdemeanor probation, 1 year, and ask for a report from his PO in six months. If he stays clean, he gets his discharge.

    The adult is going to give me his 5 months probation during his one-year stint in a minimum security work-release (can I do that as judge?)

    Do I win a prize now?

    1. Gideon Post author

      Actually the reason for my including the larceny statutes was to give someone the opportunity to reduce the charges (sub it down, as we call it) from Robbery to Larceny. Larceny, of course, being less serious than Robbery.

      As for the minimum security work-release, there’s no such thing.

      1. Jeremiah

        Ahhh, I see. the way I read the statute (not an atty, btw…surprise!) it seemed like larceny and robbery were connected by intent in some way… I didn’t interpret them to be separate charges.

        It was my intent to “sub down”, but because I’m guessing, I obviously failed. I guess i should rethink that judgeship…..;)

        The takeaway from this exercise (at least for me) is some insight into what a judge might be thinking if, say, they’re in the mood to really stick it to somebody vs. feeling particularly compassionate one day.

        Great exercise.

        Out of curiosity, were you hoping/expecting and particular response?

        1. Gideon Post author

          You’re quite right: often the sentence one expects a judge to recommend can vary based on the constitution of the particular judge and may even be influenced by his/her humor on a particular day.

          I wasn’t expecting/hoping for any specific response; just wanted to gauge the temperature and I like these kinds of posts: they’re fun to write and fun to comment on.

  3. Jdog

    Looks to me that there’s at least a reasonable chance that the kid can be salvaged — suspended sentence and probation with — I can do this since I don’t know anything about law — the sentence getting reimposed automagically if he’s convicted of a violent felony or violent misdemeanor during the run of it.

    The other guy, though, has gone to some trouble to persuade the universe that he’s not going to give up bank robbery without some serious reminders, so I’d go for the felony prison time with the possibility of probation. Given what bank robbers actually get (in terms of money) even when they get away with it, he’s not too bright, and he didn’t take his first felony conviction seriously enough.

    1. Gideon Post author

      Jdog – glad to see you around these parts!

      As to your automagic wish, it’s pretty much what would happen. If he violates probation, he’s exposed to the full suspended term. We usually try and negotiate something lesser, but he could get the full term to serve.

      I agree with your assessment on the second as well: that’s likely to happen unless there are extenuating circumstances that we don’t yet know about.


Leave a Reply