A couple weeks ago I had a sentencing in front of a District Court judge on the case that attracted a little bit of attention. The cause of that attention was my client’s appearance in his police photo. He didn’t really look all that "innocent."
In fact, many people would simply have generalized much about him based on the tattoos he carried.
Regardless of his many tattoos, I really like this guy. He is pleasant and smart, and he has a quick sense and wit. And he has a couple of prior felony convictions that had landed him in prison.
Based on his appearance and his prior felony convictions, most people likely figured he was headed back to the penitentiary. The crime itself was an aggravated battery in which another young man had been seriously injured.
From the beginning, however, my client had taken full responsibility for his actions. A bar fight ended badly with one punch. The result was a broken jaw and roughly $30,000 in medical bills that needed to be paid. My client was not rich, but he had a job and he had great empathy for the victim. True – the victim had been somewhat responsible for the punch that left him "wired for sound," but my client really felt bad about the injury.
And my client has a son. That’s right – a young son who he loves more than any tattoo, or money or anything else. And through that young son my client’s entire life has changed. The stuff that mattered to him before the birth of his son was of little consequence once that boy had been brought into his life.
It is interesting how important our children are when we are facing "legal consequences" for our actions. In this case, he told the judge that he was completely at fault and his only concern now is making the matter right. He wanted to do everything he could to make life better for the victim and by doing so, to set an example for his son. He said he did not want his son to follow the path he had taken, he hoped his son would avoid spending time behind bars.
When the judge sentenced my client, her first impression was based on his humility, not his ink. She liked him as I had predicted she would and the sentence she ultimately imposed did not include any jail time. He would do what he had agreed to – pay for the medical expenses – and give back to the community. Jail time was held in abeyance – and if he can get that all done in the next few months he will not likely ever go to jail.
Here’s the bottom line – be humble. If you made a shambles of your life, admit it. Come up with a positive solution to the problem you created and be willing to take immediate responsibility.