Arson is a serious offense in Mississippi, and you can expect stiff penalties if you are convicted of this crime. But your penalties depend on various factors, including the judge’s approach to your case. Some judges act in a predictable manner, while others make decisions that seem to go against patterns set by past arson cases. Such was the case when a Walmart arsonist received double the recommended sentence in Mississippi.
But why did this arsonist receive a sentence that was so different from the recommendations of the prosecutors? What made this judge act in such an unpredictable manner? At the end of the day, this is simply the unpredictable nature of the justice system. Sometimes, things just do not turn out the way we expect them to. On the other hand, all defendants can pursue more predictable and positive results by working with qualified, experienced criminal defense attorneys in Mississippi.
Arsonist Gets 18 Years in Federal Prison for String of Targeted Walmart Attacks
The leader of an arson conspiracy targeted against Walmart locations throughout Mississippi and Alabama has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. This is twice the recommended sentence put forth by prosecutors, and it comes despite the fact that the defendant admitted to his crimes in a federal plea agreement. He was charged with conspiring to maliciously destroy by fire real and personal property used in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce.
This federal crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, so there was always a possibility that he would face close to two decades behind bars. But prosecutors recommended a sentence of only nine years – probably due to his decision to cooperate and pursue a plea deal. That being said, his first decision was to plead not guilty – although he eventually reversed course along with his co-defendants.
Another relevant factor was the fact that this was apparently part of some kind of organized campaign against Walmart. Some might even call it an act of terrorism, especially since the defendants outlined their demands and wishes in their “Walmart Manifesto.” The defendants called this document the “Declaration of War and Demands for the People,” and the group called themselves the “Veterans Order.” As part of the conspiracy, the defendants mailed their demands to Walmart and local news stations, threatening further fires if Walmart did not comply with their demands. One fire alone caused about $8.5 million in damages.
Why Do Judges Ignore Recommendations Made by Prosecutors?
Many defendants might not be aware that a prosecutor’s recommendations can have a serious effect on the outcome of a criminal trial. However, it is the judge who always holds the real power, as they have the ability to interpret these recommendations any way they like. Not only can they carry out a sentence that is longer than the prosecutor’s recommendations, but they can also hand out a shorter sentence.
That being said, the court usually follows the recommendations of the prosecutor. Their recommendations are based on numerous factors, including their ability to prove the defendant’s guilt. If they are not so confident in their ability to do this, they may recommend a lighter sentence and accept more negotiating flexibility. They may also look at the defendant’s prior record, the time since their last arrest, and the type of case. Some cases are viewed more seriously due to current events. For example, modern courts are likely to hand out stiff penalties for fentanyl distribution when most people did not even know what this drug was a few years ago.
Recommendations may also be based on input from third parties. An obvious source of input comes from law enforcement, and officers can reveal that a defendant was highly cooperative. They might even reveal that the defendant helped catch other criminals. On the other hand, law enforcement might reveal that the defendant was not cooperative – perhaps becoming violent or sending them on wild goose chases.
The content of this blog post, along with all other materials available on this website, is provided by Vic Carmody Jr., P. A. for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Communication or information exchanged through this website does not establish or create an attorney-client relationship. It is important to recognize that legal matters are inherently complex, and each case has its own unique set of facts and circumstances. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you seek professional legal counsel to address your individual case or any concerns you may have regarding criminal charges in Mississippi.
Where Can I Find a Criminal Defense Attorney in Mississippi?
If you have been searching for an experienced criminal defense attorney in Mississippi, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. We know that facing arson charges can be a daunting prospect for defendants in Mississippi. If you want to avoid excessive penalties, your best bet is to get in touch with us as quickly as possible. The sooner you book a consultation with us, the sooner you can start pursuing positive results. Reach out today and start fighting for your rights with an effective defense strategy.