Last month, a Jacksonville judge hinted he might hold a second sentencing hearing for a former JSO employee after he learned a sergeant gave inaccurate statements under oath about the impact of her crime. This week, though, the judge let the criminal sentence stand, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The case is a telling example of how difficult it is to get a second shot at sentencing.
Kenitra Casper was sentenced in January to 12 years in prison for using her employee access to a confidential database to e-mail photos and names of undercover officers. A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office sergeant testified at the hearing that those detectives whose names were leaked by Casper, a records technician, had to be moved out of the undercover unit. Casper's new Jacksonville defense team discovered the sergeant was wrong and the detectives were only prevented from doing their work in one particular neighborhood, according to the newspaper report. The judge said he relied heavily on the sergeant's testimony, and was especially concerned about employees who had to switch jobs along with the cost to taxpayers to train others to do them. But, in an order issued last week, those concerns did not outweigh the potential danger Casper caused by breaking the public trust and leaking the information in the first place.
Casper had faced up to 60 years - five years each on 12 counts of using or disclosing confidential police information. Her first Duval County defense lawyer was asking for a year in the county jail, but the judge handed down a year in prison for each count.
As part of the new sentencing reduction motion, Casper's new Jacksonville defense attorney was also seeking to have her guilty plea withdrawn. That was denied as well and, like a resentencing, is almost never granted by a judge. While people do plead guilty to things at time because it is their best alternative - that's the nature of our system - once you accept responsibility, judges expect you to keep it. Similar situations come up frequently when people are arrested for misdemeanor charges, such as a Jacksonville DUI or a battery charge after a fight. Defendants will spend the night in jail, see a judge the next day and plead guilty so they can go home. That is usually not in the defendant's best interest and is nearly impossible to reverse. Never plead guilty to a crime without consulting with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney first. Those decisions are lasting and are too important to make without consulting a professional.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County criminal defense lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.