Some would say that Casey Anthony got away with murder, personally I think she’s getting away with Lying and Check Fraud…
The Check Fraud Case
On January 25, 2010 Casey Anthony pled guilty to 13 counts of check fraud. As a result of her guilty plea, the Honorable Judge Stan Strickland adjudicated her guilty on six of the felonies, withheld adjudication of guilt on the other seven, and sentenced her to 412 days in jail as credit for the time she previously served to be followed by one year of supervised probation.
The 412 days was based upon the amount of time between her arrest and the date of her plea.
Importantly, as will be explained, Ms. Anthony has yet to be released from the Orange County Jail to actually serve her one year of probation, as she was also being held in the Orange County Jail on another, more serious case.
The More Serious Case
On July 5, 2011 Ms. Anthony was acquitted of the most serious crimes she was charged with and was instead, only found guilty of four First Degree Misdemeanor counts of Lying to a Law Enforcement Officer during the Course of an Investigation. Based upon the jury’s verdict, the maximum sentence Ms. Anthony could receive was four years in the Orange County Jail and $4,000 in fines. The Very Honorable Judge Belvin Perry set off sentencing until July 7, 2011.
A Serious Sentence for a Serious Case
On July 7, 2011 The Very Honorable Judge Belvin Perry sentenced Ms. Anthony to consecutive sentences of one year in the county jail with credit for 1,043 days already served in the Orange County Jail awaiting trial. In addition, he imposed a fine of $1,000 on each count. The resulting sentence totaled four years in the Orange County Jail and $4,000 in fines, which on paper, looks to be the maximum possible sentence The Very Honorable Judge Belvin Perry could have handed down.
But Casey, We Were Just Getting to Know You!
About an hour later, Orange County Corrections announced that after taking into account the 1,043 days credit for time served, as well as good time and gain time, Ms. Anthony would be released from the Orange County Jail by Sunday, July 17, 2011.
Later that same day, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings released a statement haling the Very Honorable “Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. for giving the maximum sentence allowable under the law.”
And to Think, We Could Have Spent More Time Together…
There is only one problem, it was not the maximum sentence allowable under the law.
Rather, the maximum sentence allowable under the law would have been for The Very Honorable Judge Belvin Perry to have sentenced Ms. Anthony to consecutive sentences of one year in the county jail with credit for 631 days already served in the Orange County Jail awaiting trial.
But how can that be you say! She has been in jail for 1,043 days, not 631?
Under Florida law, a judge is not required to give a defendant credit for time previously served on unrelated sentences while awaiting trial. See Jackson v. State, 23 So. 3d 853 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) (“Where a defendant is held to answer for numerous charges, he is not entitled to have his jail time credit pyramided by being given credit on each sentence for the full time he spends in jail awaiting disposition of multiple charges or cases.”); See also Hardenbrook v. State, 953 So. 2d 717 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007).
What this means is that the Very Honorable Judge Belvin Perry had the authority to deny Ms. Anthony credit for 412 of the 1,043 days he credited her with previously serving, as that time had been credited to her already by the Honorable Stan Strickland on the Check Fraud Charges.
If the Very Honorable Judge Belvin Perry had exercised his judicial discretion to do so, Ms. Anthony would likely be spending at least 9 more months in the Orange County Jail after taking into account good time and gain time.
There Are No Do-Overs
And before you ask, I am sorry to say it is too late for the State to request a rehearing. The case law is crystal clear; once a sentence is imposed, it can not be modified to the detriment of the defendant. See Stang v. State, 24 So. 3d 566, 570 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) (“The Courts have repeatedly held that a trial court may not rescind jail credit that was previously awarded, even if the initial award was improper, because such an action violates double jeopardy.”)
Well, She Still Has One Year of Felony Probation…
Luckily for us, Ms. Anthony does still has one year of felony probation to serve on her Check Fraud convictions…. Hold on, wait a sec, what’s that?
Beth Karas on Prime News with Vinnie Politan is reporting that Cheney Mason claims:
“Ms. Anthony has served her probation (while in jail) and when she leaves on Wednesday she is a free agent, can go anywhere she wants…”
Now looka, I say looka here son; maybe that Mason fella just might be on to something. According to a January 29, 2010 article by the Orlando Sentinel, Ms. Anthony’s probation was scheduled to end on January 24, 2011 … Ruh, Ro! That was six months ago…
Please, Say it Ain’t So…
It ain’t so, or at least it shouldn’t be.
This is because Florida law is very clear that Ms. Anthony’s probationary period was tolled while she was incarcerated awaiting trial on that serious case we discussed earlier. See Bradley v. State, 721 So. 2d 775 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998) (Finding the defendant’s “term of state supervision was tolled during period defendant was incarcerated on an unrelated case.”); See also Brooks v. State, 762 So. 2d 1011 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000) (Defendant “erroneously contends that he completed his split sentence while incarcerated before he began his probation. He cannot have successfully completed a split sentence if he never served the probationary part, even when the sentence is a “true split” sentence. Additionally, because he was incarcerated on another offense at the time he was released from the custodial portion of his sentence in this case, defendant’s probation was tolled until he was paroled in his other case.”) See also Schurman v. State, 847 So. 2d 569 (Fla. 1st DCA 2003) (“Although the incarcerative portion of his sentence in Case No. 93-202 may have expired prior to his release from prison in May 1998, the probationary portion of that sentence was tolled while he remained in prison on other sentences, and it did not begin to run until appellant was released in May 1998. Therefore, his probationary sentence in Case No. 93-202 was [still] in effect upon his release.”)
Finally, it is worth pointing out that the fundamental reasoning behind this line of cases is that “the underlying concept of probation is rehabilitation rather than punishment and presupposes the fact that probationer is not in prison confinement.” Hatton v. State, 689 So. 2d 1195 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997)
The Law is Only the Law
Notably, the Florida Department of Corrections Offender Lookup website no longer lists Casey Anthony as a probationer, which means they agree with Mr. Mason’s interpretation.
So while the law may say Casey Anthony should still be on one year of felony probation when she is released, the law “don’t mean a hill of beans” if neither the State or the defendant follow the law.
A Final Single Finger Salute to J. Cheney Mason
Finally, I wanted to give a single finger salute to J. Cheney Mason. During Mr. Mason’s (very deserved) victory speech, he declared:
“Bias and prejudice and incompetent ‘talking heads’ saying what would be and how to be — I’m disgusted by some of the lawyers that have done this. I can tell you that my colleagues from coast to coast and border to border have condemned this whole process of lawyers getting on television and talking about cases they don’t know a damn thing about.”
Mr. Mason ended that sissy fit with a proclamation that the “talking heads” would be hearing from him and his team.
The following day I received several phone calls from various sources and reporters who indicated that J. Cheney Mason had, in fact, not been sleeping through most of Ms. Anthony’s trial as we all suspected.
Rather he had actually spent that time compiling a list of “talking head” attorneys that he was going to go after, alleging either defamation or violation of the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct.
I was allegedly confirmed to be one of those “talking head” attorneys.
Well J. Cheney Mason, I have only one response to that.
Call me, I’m waiting…
Cheney, my office number is (407) 540-1551, so instead of cornering reporters and brow beating them for quoting me, feel free to pick up the phone like a man and call me whenever you “want to talk” about what has gotten your boots so tight.
But since I doubt you would ever do that, here are four other suggestions for you to consider:
- Brush up on the word Hypocrite.
- Review your own commentary about Jose Baez and Ms. Anthony’s case.
- “You can pretty well predict there’s going to be a life sentence, either a plea and get it over with or have a circus trial and then be convicted and get life.” – J. Cheney Mason (12/12/2008)
- “Then all the talking, all the press interviews and the parents going on this show and that show and the lawyer [Jose Baez] going on different shows establishes they have no credibility whatsoever.” - J. Cheney Mason (12/12/2008)
- Read this little gem on the First Amendment.
- Sit on this and rotate