My son’s attorney talked a good game. We thought that she really had his best interest at heart. She had the case six months before he turned 21. We thought that we really had a great attorney since she was recommended to us by a bail bondsmen. I was wrong. I do not generally like to discuss fees but I think it is important for me to do so. The attorney charged me $15000 plus any additional costs that may arrive, depositions, court fees, etc. Also, this $15000 did not include a trial fee of $3750, if it went to trial. I had just finish paying almost $3000 for bail. $15000 was near impossible. I told the attorney that I could give her $5000 down and pay $200 every 2 weeks until she was paid in full. She agreed. It took everything in my physical being to get up the $5000 and make the monthly payments. I worked sometimes 60 hours a week at my place of employment, I ran a day care from my home on Saturdays and managed 2 houses. I sold Avon, I donated Plasma and I also own a small bulk vending business. I was taking care of my 3 teenagers, my aged mother and great aunt. It wasn’t easy but I managed to make every payment on time. The hot attorney was all talk and no fire. We started communicating toward the end of June 2011. We did not communicate in July. On 8/2/2011 we entered into an agreement. I should first explain that the two victims cases were initially separate but were consolidated on 7/26/2011 into one case. You will see the importance of this information in later posts. . At the time, I did not know much about the judicial system. We didn’t know that anything about a speedy trial. We just did what we were told to do. I did not know that it would be in my son’s best interest to proceed swiftly. I did not know anything about youthful offender. I know now. I now understand that the attorney should have been diligently working on my son’s case. It was just this year that I learned that I can look at the register of actions. To my amazement, I saw continuances and pre-trial conferences that we were told that Charles did not need to attend. She talked about having the judge consider my son as a youthful offender. That did not take place until a week before his 21st birthday. In fact, she had originally told us to be there on 2/2/2011. After we flew in and check into a hotel, she called and said that something came up with judge and that the judge had to postpone the hearing. Imagine my despair, the money for hotel and travel was wasted. We had to fly back 2 weeks later. When we arrived at court, our attorney was no where to be found. The judge sent the prosecutor to look for her. When she arrived at court, she was flustered and unsure of herself. She was suppose to call me up to speak on my son’s behalf. That never happened. Even the victims did not show up. My son only had a week before his 21st birthday. The attorney did not talk of any of his positive attributes. In fact, she did not talk of anything that would sway the judge. I was embarrassed and ashamed at the poor representation. Even if the judge had said that she would consider youth offender, it would have been a moot win because my son was due to turn 21 in less that a week. The Florida statue says that the following:
Eligibility for Youthful Offender Sentencing
A court has the discretion, but is not required, to sentence as a Youthful Offender any person who:
1.Is at least 18 years of age or a juvenile whose case was prosecuted as an adult.
2.Was found guilty of, or pled nolo contendere or guilty to, any non-capital or non-life felony crime;
3.Has not previously been classified as a youthful offender; and
4.Is younger than 21 years of age at the time the sentence is imposed.
Even if a person commits a crime when they are 19 but doesn’t go to trial until after there 21st birthday, they can no longer be sentenced as a youthful offender.
I am going to try and explain this a little better. Let’s say that the judge decided not to try my son as a youth for whatever reason and decided to try him as an adult. At sentencing, if he is under 21 years of age, she could still sentence him as a youthful offender. I am confident that had she known all of his accomplishments, work history and schooling, she would have been compelled to sentence him as a youth. This was his first offense. She did not know any of this because the attorney did not make it known. She had her own reasons for wanting the case to drag on. She had her own reasons alright.