A 23-year-old U.S. Marine convicted in the DUI deaths of his younger sister and her boyfriend, along with the serious injuries of a third passenger, had been given reprieves on two major fronts:
- He faced more than a decade behind bars, yet was given nine years, with five years of that suspended in a plea deal, meaning he would serve just four years.
- He was allowed to delay his formal sentencing, and therefore his reporting to prison, until early September, so that he could get his affairs in order. This was a condition to which prosecutors did not object.
Our Birmingham DUI defense lawyers understand he may have jeopardized both of these reprieves, after he was rushed to the hospital for displaying erratic behavior. As it turned out, medical professionals allege he had consumed illegal bath salts, known to cause erratic behavior.
He wasn’t actually found to be in possession of the drugs, so normally, this would not have been grounds upon which to arrest him. However, his alleged use of these substances was in direct violation to the conditions of his bail.
He had previously pleaded guilty to two counts each of manslaughter and aggravated criminal operating under the influence and one count of violating conditions of release. When he entered his plea, he showed up for the hearing dressed in his full military gear, despite the fact that he had been discharged from the Marines several months prior. He told the judge the uniform was “all I have left,” and described the day of the crash last June as “the worst night of my life.”
The single-vehicle crash occurred when the defendant, while on leave from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, lost control of his vehicle and struck a tree. He reportedly ran from the crash scene on foot, but was discovered about a half a mile away. His blood-alcohol content measured at 0.12 percent, above the maximum 0.08 percent threshold.
That he is depressed is understandable, and almost to be expected. That he would abuse substances as a way to cope is also not all that surprising.
However, it’s important for our clients and potential clients to understand that violating the terms of bail and/or probation can have serious repercussions. The most immediate of these consequences is that one will almost certainly be sent back to jail. Others include the possibility that certain conditions of financial or personal freedom may be revoked. It may also mean that conditions of a plea agreement could be jeopardized.
That’s why it’s very important to abide by the rules as set forth. Having a good attorney to help negotiate reasonable rules is one way to help prevent a potential violation.
If, however, you are still caught violating one of the terms of these releases, your defense lawyer might argue one of the following:
- You weren’t aware of the specific condition that was violated;
- The alleged violation was not willful;
- The government incurred no expense in trying to locate you following the violation;
- The government/community wasn’t damaged or prejudiced by the violation.
Your individual circumstances will guide the approach taken.