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  1. Tempest001

    Tempest001 New Member

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    How many years in prison?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Tempest001, Feb 10, 2019.

    I don't know much about law, so I'm in a bit of a trouble here.

    My character breaks in a house (older lady owns it; it's neither poor nor rich neighborhood, somewhere in between). Neighbor notices, calls police and the thief gets caught (he doesn't fight back).

    The question is, how many years does he get? I need him on a parole so could you break it down for me? How much in a prison, how much on a parole? The novel is placed in Colorado.
     
  2. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    140-200 years with no parole in the Colorado supermax eating the nutraloaf and naked and no books, and not even allowed to join a gang, then executed.

    In Norway the voluntary course of langlalf.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  3. camphore

    camphore Member

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  4. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter

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    Why is the character breaking in? Does the old lady want to press charges? Does he steal anything? Depending on the circumstances, he may not get any time, nor even a conviction.
     
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  5. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    With no priors, and no excessive damage to the premises, nothing taken other than perhaps food, and possibly a plausible reason for breaking in, he could get a suspended sentence and a year or two of probation from a lenient judge. Perhaps he was being tracked by coyotes or feral dogs, and in desperate need of shelter. Still a crime, but without violence and with restitution for damage caused by breaking in, leniency is very possible.
     
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  6. Tempest001

    Tempest001 New Member

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    Thanks everyone for answers. Now I see, I should have given more details.

    The character was kicked out of home, lived on the streets since. It's not the first time he broke in someones home, but it's the first time he was caught. Usually, he's more careful, but he was quite desperate this time. He picked a lock, no damage to the premises otherwise. He steals the typical, money, anything of value and light enough to carry. When cops came in, he was pretty much caught in the act. Old lady does press charges.
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Not even a little tender Contributor

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    Is he a juvenile?
     
  8. Darius Marley

    Darius Marley Member

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    Not to confuse things, but perhaps you could add a small twist by making the old lady somebody highly influential... she pushes for maximum charges, and the judge delivers them.
     
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  9. BayView

    BayView Not even a little tender Contributor

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    Also, how well will he be defended? Uninterested public attorney or dedicated (and expensive) criminal lawyer? Will he present well in court (appear properly remorseful, etc.). There are a lot of factors that can be manipulated to make this fit what works for the story.
     
  10. Tempest001

    Tempest001 New Member

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    Woah, I had no idea there are so many factors.

    My novel starts when he gets out on a parole. He's 23-25 at the time. That's what I know for sure. About the sentence, I was thinking 3 years behind bars and 2 on a parole (a year more or less doesn't change much), but I don't know how realistic that is. So, about him being juvenile at the time of crime and about the lawyer, it depends. What would fit better with a sentence like that?
     
  11. camphore

    camphore Member

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    Can you provide a physical description of your MC? Not to stir anything up, but Americans will understand why this could be significant, especially since the setting is Colorado.
     
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  12. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    The best course, and it may be difficult given your location, would be to ask a criminal lawyer in Colorado. Maybe do an internet search for criminal defense attorneys in Colorado, and email a few. I'll bet you could find one who would talk with you just for "fun"; just make sure he or she knows you're not willing to pay for it.

    The problem with your question is, as others have pointed out, there would be many mitigating factors, from the quality of his defense to the particular judge that hears the case, and whether there's a plea bargain (he pleads guilty and waives a trial in exchange for a relatively lenient sentence). BTW, it's not up to the old lady whether she "wants to press charges"; once the police are called, that question is one for the State of Colorado, not the alleged victim.

    All that said, unless the crime and sentence are critical to the story, don't worry too much about the details. On the surface anyway, your scenario is plausible. If the story starts when he is out on parole, the technical accuracy of the sentence wouldn't be of much relevance, not the least because of the factors mentioned previously.
     
  13. Tempest001

    Tempest001 New Member

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    When designing him, I was thinking of Johnny Edlind. He has a few tattoos, not full hands and he obviously doesn't clothe like that since he's a street kid but you get the picture.

    It seems the best course for me would be to spend few days studying law. Tnak you for the correction.
    It's not that important. It doesn't affect him too much later in the story. It's more about giving him a background. But I'd like to do it right anyway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  14. camphore

    camphore Member

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    Ah, OK. Good looking white guy with no priors... 6 years in state pen reduced to 3 on good behavior and 2 years parole with a crappy attorney sounds realistic to me.
     
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  15. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter

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    The short version is that, given the state of the American criminal justice system, you can almost entirely make up a sentence and apply it, and it would have some level of realism. It’s frankly horrible here, in that regard at least, and there’s little rhyme or reason to sentencing.
     
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  16. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Well, write the 'suspended 2 year sentence' and the celebration party afterward where he accidentally assaults/reverse punches a waitress through a window with his elbow twist, then goes to jail.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  17. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Member

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    I think you need to figure out WHERE in Colorado exactly, and call a criminal defense attorney in that locality and ask him. If you tell him it's for a novel, he will almost certainly be happy to give you a good answer. But keep in mind that there's lots of variable, so tell the attorney how old your character is, what gender, what race, whether he has any priors, whether he has money to pay a defense attorney, whether his family has influence in town, whether the victim has connections, etc. All these factors go into the answer, because the criminal justice system is not the same for everyone.
     

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