Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Le’Veon Bell, was charged with DUI and marijuana possession this spring. As a result, he was suspended for three games. He appealed the suspension and it was reduced to two games. The three game suspension is a standard suspension for this type of violation: one for the marijuana and two for the DUI. However, Bell was apologetic from the outset. He also participated in the NFL’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which is a 15 month program that requires abstinence from drig and alcohol use. In addition, he is a first time offender. It is likely that his remorse and efforts to avoid a similar situation in the future, contributed to the reduced punishment.
In contrast, Tom Brady’s four game suspension was upheld. Based on the report associated with this decision, it did not appear as though Goodell felt Brady expressed any remorse or accepted any responsibility. This may be because Brady did not do anything wrong, and therefore, he has nothing to be apologetic for, but often punishments are more severe when there is a lack of acceptance of responsibility. This is also true in a courtroom setting.
Judges often consider these same factors when determing the sentence to be imposed, whether the sentence is for a first time offense or a multiple time offender. After a first offense, Colorado law requires a jail sentence, but the length of the sentence as well as the way in which the sentence is served is largely left to the judge’s discretion. For example, if a person is convicted of a second alcohol-related driving offense and the prior is less than 5 years ago, the court must impose a sentence of at least 10 days of jail and a maximum of 12 months.
Judges consider mitigation when trying to decide the appropriate sentence. Mitigation includes participation in treatment, acceptance of responsibility and remorse. Properly expressing this information to a judge is part of the job of a good defense attorney. Presenting mitigation in a persuasive manner may change the type of sentence received. This is not to say that a person charged with a DUI or other crime should take responsibility for something he or she didn’t do, but if a case gets to the sentencing phase it is an equally important phase as the pretrial stages. So, if you have been charged with a crime, even if it is your intent to plead guilty, an attorney can still help.