reply to post by Jameela
Under US law (respectfully I am on the assumption you are not from the US. If you are then my apologies), as well as the UCMJ, a charge is a single
item with a single punishment (or single punishment guidelines). In order to use the defense by mental defect (which is the technical / legal term
used for those who are not familiar so you dont think i'm calling the Sgt. names) medical professionals will have to do there thing in order to
certify for a fact there are some mental issues present that can be used in mitigation (affirmative defense).
Essentially the argument being made by the defense is yes the incident occurred, however the reason it occurred is based on circumstance - IE an issue
that prevents the accused from understanding that their actions were in the wrong.
What that means is - example (prison time is made up by me for this example).
Charge - Manslaughter
Penalty if found guilty - 25 years in prison with no possibility of parole.
The Sgt. is charged with 17 counts of manslaughter.
The Sgt., for this hypothetical, is charged with 17 counts of manslaughter. At the end of the trial he is found guilty on all 17 counts. During the
sentencing phase the judge has 2 options -
* - Option 1
The Sgt can be sentenced on all 17 counts where the penalty time runs concurrent. That option will put the Sgt. in prison for 25 years on all 17
* - Option 2
The Sgt. can be sentenced on all 17 counts where the penalty times run consecutively. That means the Sgt. would serve 25 years in prison. Once the 25
years is done, he would start the next sentence on charge #2 for 25 years. At the end of that he would start his next sentence on charge #3 for 25
years, etc etc etc.
For option 1 total prison time for all 17 convictions would be 25 years and thats it.
For option 2 total prison time for all 17 convictions would be 425 years (life in Prison).
There are a few other options, allowing some charges to run concurrently and the remainder to run consecutively etc etc etc. A person who is
determined to qualify for mental defect can still be charged, found guilty and sent to a Prison / Federal Medical Penitentiary. Its still a
correctional facility that specializes in psychiatric issues.
If at any point the Doctors (Psyche not medical) determine he is competent he can be transferred to a normal prison facility.
Hope this helps... Its why a person can effectively be sentenced to life in prison even on the lesser charges. A lesser charge doesn't always mean an
easier time. Usually when a lesser crime is used its because of mitigating circumstances (evidence doesn't support the higher charge, mental /
emotional issues / etc etc etc). Usually when that occurs the Prosecution can support a defense motion in terms of psychiatric institution etc etc
edit on 26-3-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)