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I was saddened the other day when I read about an out of work wrangler in Los Angeles who was sentenced to thirty one years imprisonment for stealing a television set. This gentleman had no previous crimes of violence though he did have an extensive prior record for minor criminal offenses. He had been crime free for more than five years. This man was not my client.
The gentleman and a friend, according to the district attorney, quickly entered a home in the Los Angeles area in broad daylight, removed a television and left. A burglar alarm was triggered and the two men were stopped a few blocks from the house. The two went to trial and the jury disbelieved the testimony of the first man that he had come upon the television abandoned at the side of the road and that he thought it was salvage property. The other man had a salvage license and it was “trash day”–there were trash cans out along the street.
Regardless of whether the man is guilty spending the rest of your adult life in jail for stealing a television set is an unjust punishment. The judge meted out the punishment in a mechanical manner relying upon the California penal code and the Three Strikes Law. Even the victim submitted a letter that the man recommending that the man only spend a couple of years in jail and that he receive “vocational rehabilitation.”
Even though there have been several favorable changes in California state crminal law, including rolling back penalties on drug offenses with Proposition 47 and a limitation of the applicability of the Three Strikes Law, many unjust sentencing results, like the one above still occur.
Even though I am sad that the judges of California still imposes sentences like this, I am glad that these kinds of injustices still bother me. I guess if there is ever a day when they don’t, then it is time to stop
being a criminal defense attorney.