Youthful carjacking defendant receives treatment along with incarceration
My client was 18 years old when he was accused of carjacking the taxicab of an 86-year-old man. In this particular case he and his codefendant apparently had no bus money and took the keys by force from a senior citizen. The senior citizen was not threatened, there was no weapon and he was not injured. Several hours later the police spotted the stolen car and allege that my client bailed out of the car and ran away. Several hours later they apprehended him. He was likely under the influence of PCP at the time.
At the time of this offense my client was on probation for robbery. He had committed the robbery as a juvenile but his case was put into the adult court. He may already also have had a conviction for felony theft as an adult.
As a juvenile he had significant contact with the criminal justice system.
I suspect that most people that read this post would have very little sympathy for this individual and perhaps hope that the judge would lock him up and throw away the key. Before he can be locked up there does need to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt of his guilt.
I began looking at the proof. The evidence against my client I thought was fairly strong. The victim gave an immediate statement claiming he could identify my client. My client had a distinct tattoo on his arm and the victim noticed that. Also my client gave a confession to the police. Finally, there were forensics which tied my client to the car: his fingerprints were inside the car including the rearview mirror. That is a classic when a crook steals a car they put their hands on the rearview mirror to adjust it. As stated, the evidence was pretty strong.
My client had a lengthy criminal record and was on probation. Sentencing guidelines called for imprisonment of up to 10 years for this offense. He owed his probation judge 3.5 years backup time. He was basically looking at 13 1/2 years of prison time.
I spoke to some of his family members. He had suffered abuse at the hands of other men from an early age. He had drug problems. He was bipolar and was suffering from ADHD. He had never been to a "normal" school. He was always in some sort of special needs schools. His mother referred me to the principal of his last school. I spoke with the principal but she was not particularly helpful in terms of telling me that my client was making great progress. He was having significant problems in the school.
This barely 19-year-old young man was in deep trouble and could not seem to get out of this pattern. Even though he had all this criminal history my thinking was that it was related to the abuse that he suffered, the psychological condition, his drug addiction. My thinking was that if I could get him into an intensive treatment program he might be able to turn his life around.
Maryland has the Patuxent Institution youthful offenders program. It applies to men and women 21 years and under. They want the person there for at least five years so that they can give them intensive therapy, counseling and job training. It is not possible to exit that program voluntarily. You either graduate or you are kicked out because of serious behavior violations. You cannot choose to leave the program. They apparently have a pretty good success rate.
Armed with this information I negotiated with the prosecutor as well as the trial judge who happened to be the violation of probation judge. We all agreed that if he received a seven-year sentence at the Patuxent Institute he had the best chance of turning his life around. My client was sentenced to basically seven years with a recommendation for the Patuxent Institute for both offenses with supervised probation to make sure he is doing well after he is done with incarceration.
When choosing your defense attorney experience counts. The judge and prosecutor have known me for decades and trust my judgment. I had the knowledge to find a proactive program that will actually help my client rather than just put him in a warehouse. I am hoping that he does well.