Read every sentence twice to fully understand this stupidty. From The Free Lance–Star:
Marcus Duane Simms thought he had a valid reason for not showing up in Stafford Circuit Court twice in January.
He was in jail in Norfolk.
Unfortunately for Simms, a Stafford County jury–and state law–disagreed.
This jury, in this case, is completely stupid. More on the state law below.
The jury recommended that Simms, 21, serve a year in prison after convicting him of two counts of failing to appear in court.
People get less time for dealing drugs for crying out loud!
Sources said that before taking his case to the jury, Simms rejected a deal in which he would have served two days in exchange for his guilty pleas.
As would I.
According to the evidence and court records, Simms was arrested in Stafford last year on four theft-related charges.
As I wouldn’t.
He was supposed to appear for trials on Jan. 8 and 24, but he did not because he was locked up in Norfolk on charges he picked up while free on bond.
Prosecutor Michael Hardiman said that under state law, being in state custody does not excuse a defendant from missing court. He said that Simms’ was required to be on good behavior while on bond.
Mr. Prosecutor Guy: You’re not the most up-to-date on the intent of state law are you?: § 19.2-128:
A. Whoever, having been released pursuant to this chapter or § 19.2-319 or on a summons pursuant to § 19.2-73 or § 19.2-74, willfully fails to appear before any court or judicial officer as required, shall, after notice to all interested parties, incur a forfeiture of any security which may have been given or pledged for his release, unless one of the parties can show good cause for excusing the absence, or unless the court, in its sound discretion, shall determine that neither the interests of justice nor the power of the court to conduct orderly proceedings will be served by such forfeiture.
B. Any person (i) charged with a felony offense or (ii) convicted of a felony offense and execution of sentence is suspended pursuant to § 19.2-319 who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
C. Any person (i) charged with a misdemeanor offense or (ii) convicted of a misdemeanor offense and execution of sentence is suspended pursuant to § 19.2-319 who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Anyone with an ounce of sense (something a Stafford County prosecutor and jury apparently lack) would see that the condition in subsection A should also apply to subsections B and C.
In addition, note the inclusion of the words “willfully fails to appear”.
As for being on good behavior: This is completely and utterly irrelevant to Simms’s failure to appear charges. If he violated the terms of his bond, he should have been show caused and have had bond revoked in Stafford County (which occurred). The fact the violated the terms of his bond has absolutely no bearing on his failure to appear charges.
Defense attorney Denise Rafferty agreed that the law was against Simms, but she asked the jury to use its common sense and recognize that Simms could not have been in court those days.
Common sense ain’t so common.
She pointed out that he had shown up for other court appearances in Stafford, including his arraignment and a preliminary hearing.
Simms ended up pleading guilty to receiving stolen property in Stafford and got a suspended three-year sentence.
I’m sure the people that had stuff stolen from them appreciate the fact that the guy is going to get more time in jail for annoying a prosecutor and a judge, than for stealing their stuff.
Simms pleaded guilty in April in Norfolk Circuit Court to charges of eluding police and hit and run. He will be sentenced on those charges later this month.
His sentencing on yesterday’s convictions is set for Aug. 25 in Stafford Circuit Court. The judge could reduce his one-year sentence but cannot increase it.