A marine corps Vietnam veteran in small Oklahoma town became very depressed and severely neglected himself and his companion animals. (Luckily none of them died and with my client's full cooperation they were successfully rehomed.) The neighbors noticed and complained to the police who got a warrant and conducted a raid on his home. He was arrested and arraigned in the Payne County District Court in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
He hired me and I went to work. This was not a trial case; it would be for plea because the evidence was overwhelming. I negotiated for over a year with the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the matter. They wanted prison time; five years in DOC for an old mentally ill veteran.
I counseled him and we agreed to enter a blind plea to the charges, after all, he was guilty and we couldn't say otherwise. He should have sought help with his problems earlier, but that was in the past and we had our eye on the future.
We plead guilty to the charges and requested a Pre-Sentence Investigation by the Department of Corrections. They recommended probation, but the DA was unmoved. She wanted justice for the animals. I gathered VA medical records illustrating my client's illness and his service record.
At the hearing the officers involved in the arrest admitted that my client had no malice in his actions and that he was clearly mentally disturbed at the time of the incident. The judge accepted and reviewed the mental health records of my client. He heard the argument of the State and my argument for my client explaining his mental state and the effects of PTSD and depression and how those effects led to the neglect that my client was surely guilty of. I explained that my client had, since his arrest, worked hard to recover from his illness to be able to take care of himself properly and that, for the protection of companion animals like those he'd had, he would certainly agree that a condition of any probation would be that he had no ownership, care or possession of animals.
The judge returned with a deferred judgment. When the State asked for at least community service to be imposed, the judge declined explaining that this man, my client, had already "served enough" and suffered now for it.
If you're a veteran in need of an advocate call me. I will do my damnedest to protect your liberty like you protected ours.
Practice area(s): Criminal Defense