Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Law for the Rich and a Law for the Poor

In the US, is you are rich, you serve no time for a crime. You simply pull out your cheque book and write down some numbers that make the crime literally disappear! If you are poor, you don't get that choice. You pay with your life, with time in jail.

Here's an article in the Chicago Tribune about the idiot son of very wealthy parents who gets off with two years lounging in his parents mansion by the sea (call that "house arrest") and a cheque to the victims:
The scion of a wealthy Chicago-area family pleaded guilty in a South Florida court Friday to killing two British businessmen with his Porsche but avoided prison after agreeing to pay an undisclosed sum to the widows.

Ryan LeVin, 36, will spend two years under house arrest in his parents' oceanside condominium

The businessmen's widows supported the sentence, and their attorneys collected checks from LeVin immediately after Friday morning's hearing. LeVin spoke only at the judge's prodding and offered no apology during the proceeding, where he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal crash and two counts of vehicular homicide.

"The need for restitution does outweigh the need for prison," Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy said.

LeVin admitted to being behind the wheel of his $120,000 Porsche 911 Turbo when it jumped a sidewalk and killed Craig Elford, 39, and Kenneth Watkinson, 48, as they were walking to their beachside hotel Feb. 13, 2009. LeVin initially denied driving the speeding car and pinned the blame on a friend.

Given that LeVin's sentencing guidelines called for up to 45 years behind bars, some legal experts say the case seems to be an unsettling example of checkbook justice.


At the time of the crash, LeVin was on probation in Illinois for a 2006 case in which he had driven into a Chicago police officer and instigated a chase on the Kennedy Expressway. Court records show LeVin has more than 50 traffic violations and a long history of drug abuse.


By comparison, a South Florida driver who pleaded guilty to a similar hit-and-run crash with one fatality was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution.

Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein called it another case of a privileged defendant receiving leniency from the justice system, something rarely afforded a common street criminal.

"It is an outrage, and there should not be a single person in our community that is not offended by the fact that it is clear you can buy justice in Broward County," Finkelstein said. "Our clients in similar situations, in every case, go to prison for substantial periods of time.
What I don't understand: In the US you can have both a criminal and a civil case. The criminal case should have gotten justice for the people. The civil case should have gotten monetary restitution. This judge pretends that you can't have a civil case. Nuts! (Think O.J. Simpson who was found "not guilty" of killing Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, but in the civil case he was found guilty and ordered to turn over millions in damages. Who does this judge think she is fooling?)

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