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Impaired driver in accident sentenced to community corrections

A judge recently handed down sentencing in an impaired driving case surrounding an accident that killed a pedestrian in a Keystone crosswalk. The defendant pleaded guilty after he hit the pedestrian in March and was found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The defendant was sentenced to six years of community corrections after hours of testimony from his family and friends, his own testimony and comments from the victim's mother, as well as attorneys on both sides.

Community corrections is a program under the Department of Corrections. Offenders sentenced to community corrections are not put behind bars but do have some freedoms restricted. The program focuses on counseling, family support and incentive-based programs to rehabilitate offenders rather than incarcerating them.

The prosecutor in the case had asked that the man be sentenced to prison for eight years. However, the judge considered mitigating factors in determining the sentence, including the man's obvious remorse, testimony from family and friends regarding his character, his lack of any previous criminal history and his cooperation with law enforcement throughout the case.

"In the eyes of this court justice is best reflected by compassion," said the judge in the case. He added, "There is a need for punishment, but there is also a need for restoration."

The practice of imposing sentences with a greater focus on rehabilitation is slowly gaining ground in courts across the country. Many municipalities have noticed the high cost of incarceration as they struggle to balance a budget. Rehabilitative sentences not only save states money on prison costs but also decrease a defendants' likelihood of re-offending, keeping them from cycling through the court system repeatedly.

If you have been accused of a crime, it is wise to contact a criminal defense attorney sooner rather than later. They can help you build a strong defense, negotiate with prosecutors and get the best possible outcome in your case.

Source: Summit Daily News, "Driver in Keystone crash gets 6 years community corrections," Caddie Nath, Sep. 15, 2012

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