Just a few weeks ago I wrote about a case that sent a man with no criminal record to prison for 7 years—all due to some pretty confusing gun laws and an unwavering judge. Just this week he was granted a commutation from Governor Christie, likely due in part to all of the attention his case was getting.
A sentence “commutation” isn’t the wiping away of a conviction; it’s just a lessening of the penalty. Reprieves of any kind are unusual, though governors and even the president grant a few as the holiday season nears.
The man was released this week in time to spend Christmas with his family, though he states he won’t be spending it in Jersey, opting instead to get out of the state somehow.
The release came as a surprise to him. According to the NJ Star Ledger, he was moved from his prison tier to a single man cell in the medical unit with no explanation the night before his release. (It’s common for inmates to be removed from general population preceding their release).
Over the past few months, his case got a lot of attention from some pretty powerful groups. He was made a poster child for the NRA whose executive director thanked Christie “on behalf of the 4 million members” for freeing the man.
The pressure on the Governor no doubt played a role in his decision. Afterall, though this was a questionably meting out of justice by the trial judge, there are similar albeit lesser-known cases happening all the time. One has to wonder how things would’ve been different had the man had previous convictions or been an unemployed drug addict.
The justice system isn’t always fair. Plain and simple. There are controls in place to help prevent injustice but those controls sometimes fail.
Even sometimes when the law is correctly applied, it can seem unfair or overly harsh. Take drug crimes, for instance. You can go to jail for months and even years for drug offenses that technically don’t hurt anyone but you.
There are no guarantees when you are facing criminal charges. As if the system wasn’t scary enough already, now you have to cross your fingers and hope there are no glaring injustices that occur in your own case. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side can help.
From the moment you come in contact with the police, the risk for abuse is present. A criminal defense attorney can analyze all the facts of your case and help to ensure your rights are protected at every stage of the game.
You don’t want to have to hold out for a commutation or pardon. Avoiding a conviction in the first place is the obvious preference.