In another example of the state charging people with crimes that carry life sentences and then offering a much better deal as trial approaches, a Jacksonville man facing two counts of murder will go to prison for 15 years. Calvin Bryant was charged in two shootings during a 2010 a block party where one man was killed and another was injured, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Bryant was initially charged with second-degree murder, attempted first degree murder, carrying a concealed firearm and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Both murder charges are first-degree felonies that carry a sentence of up to life in prison. The use of a firearm charge is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and the concealed weapon charge is a third-degree felony with a five-year maximum sentence. In this Jacksonville Murder Case, the state dropped both gun charges – virtually unheard of in Jacksonville criminal justice proceedings these days. On the surface, it appears the state was not confident at all in either of the two murder charges against Bryant. To start with second-degree murder and an attempted first-degree murder and them go down to 15 years is a significant drop. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney sees the state routinely insist on far higher sentences for much less serious charges – certainly charges that don’t involve someone being killed. The next obvious question, then, is: If the state’s case is so weak, then why did the defense take prison time and not push the case to trial?
In Jacksonville Criminal Defense Cases, especially Jacksonville Murder Cases, the decision to take a deal or go to trial is one of balancing and managing risk. In this Jacksonville Murder Case, Bryant was facing life in prison if convicted. It was not a mandatory life sentence but, in the vast majority of Jacksonville Criminal Defense cases, the sentencing following a trial is more severe than what the state was offering before trial. That doesn’t say much about every person’s fundamental right to a trial before a jury of one’s peers, but that’s how our system operates. The opportunity to take 15 years instead of risking a life sentence was why Bryant chose to plead guilty, his attorney told the newspaper. In many Jacksonville Murder Cases, the state does not even have an offer other than life in prison. That’s why so many Jacksonville Murder Cases end up in trial. If a defendant is looking at life in prison on a plea or life in prison on a trial, there’s no incentive not to take the case to trial and most defendants do. But, when there is another option on the table, the decision is different. In Bryant’s Jacksonville Murder Case, the state gets at least some time in prison and the defense cuts its losses and gets a favorable deal for the defendant.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Murder Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.