Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer feels fortunate when fate, providence and sheer blind luck somehow combine to send that stray twenty dollar bill his way close enough to pocket it now and then.
How much better it would be to possess a very rare and unusual $500 million United States Treasury Reserve Bank Note from the 1930s. Unfortunately the Florida Defendant’s fancy U.S. Treasury Reserve Bank Note proved to be fake.
|$100,000 Bill, 1934: Largest Ever Issued
The man was charged with Federal Scheme to Defraud when he supplied not only the bank note but along with it, an actual old bank safe vault holding the note providing an authentic provenance during what must have been a weighty FBI sting.
The federal sentencing guidelines as reflected in the Presentencing Investigation Report recommended at least 42 months of Federal prison.
Press Reports note that the Florida Federal Judge decided to show mercy for an unusual reason not normally found in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines instead:
“It becomes almost laughable,” the judge said. “To me, it doesn’t promote respect for the law to send someone to prison … for doing something so silly and outrageous.”
The judge sentenced Ayison to six months of house arrest, five years of probation and 250 hours of community service and must also undergo a psychiatric evaluation…
That psychiatric evaluation sounds like a great idea, but so does showing some merciful discretion in a case like this where the absurd facts clearly led the Court to consider that jail in this case was inappropriate.
There’s a lesson here for defense counsel. If an underlying criminal charge or the facts and circumstances of a case gives the judge a smile, he’ll find it difficult to give the Defendant prison. More of the best Judges are wisely using their sentencing discretion to reduce unnecessary prison time in cases like this one.
Your Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney suggests that when a guy comes to you with a fancy antique safe and a $500 million United States Treasury Bank Note, you should remember that Federal prosecutors told the Judge that there is no such thing as a genuine half-billion dollar U.S. Bank Note, but that antique safe might be worth something.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is known for rarely if ever allowing early release for Federal prisoners for medical illness. As a general rule only FDA approved drugs with a proper Doctor’s prescription are allowed within Federal Prisons, even if your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer tries to hide some in a birthday cake with the nail file.
|Joseph Wright, Experiment on Bird, 1768
It’s important for defense attorneys to understand the BOP regulations for drugs that can be administered in Federal Prison. I had a client who had committed in access of half a million dollars in fraud, scored a minimum of 96 months in jail on the Presentencing Report and had a pending Trafficking in Marijuana from New Orleans; he was also a very sick man with hepatitis C.
At sentencing I argued that the Defendant was bravely being a human guinea pig by taking experimental non-FDA approved drugs from Shands Hospital. And further at sentencing we established that he’d bravely been testing the new drugs which could kill him yet at the same time could be the only thing keeping him alive. Further, since the experimental drugs were not FDA approved, no Federal Prison could give the drugs to him and the kind Doctors at Shands wanted to continue their experiments on the Defendant. The Judge over the Government’s strong objections did not sentence the Defendant to any prison time at all.
But what if a Defendant is already in Jail. How do you establish that he is so gravely ill that he should be released? Here from defense attorney Amy Baron-Evans is a success in forcing BOP to release an inmate based on compassionate release:
BOP rarely files a motion for early release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) when an inmate has a terminal illness or for other extraordinary and compelling reasons under USSG 1B1.13. In this case, the inmate, Phillip Smith, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in August 2011, but BOP twice refused to file the motion because, it said, his criminal history outweighed his medical needs (and imminent death). Phillip contacted his lawyer, Ruben Iniguez, and Ruben and Steve Sady filed a motion with the court, contending that BOP was putting itself in the position of the judge, not filing the motion unless it thought the motion should be granted. After a couple of weeks of litigation, BOP agreed to file the motion, and the judge immediately ordered Mr. Smith’s release on March 12, 2012, seven months after the motion should have been filed. Mr. Smith gave a videotaped interview from home on April 2 and died April 9. Hundreds of people die of natural causes in BOP custody every year but BOP filed only 55 motions from 2009 to 2011. This was an unusual case in that the client called his lawyer and the lawyer took action that put pressure on BOP to file the motion.