This isn’t a “wacky crime news” type of blog, but every once in a while, an out-of-the-ordinary story can teach us a good lesson in how the justice system often works. Such is the case of a Fort Worth man who will be in prison for a very long time because of his evening out at a Mansfield movie theater.
Forty-eight year old Charles Cleveland Nowden went to the movies on November 6, 2009 where he purchased two hot dogs, two cokes, and a popcorn. He used a counterfeit $20 bill to make the purchase. When he was arrested, police found $120 in additional counterfeit bills in his vehicle.
Now, $140 in counterfeit money is a big deal. Passing it as legitimate money is another crime in itself. But you wouldn’t think it would garner any more than a few years in prison at the most. Nowden, however, wouldn’t be so lucky.
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial of two additional pending cases, one in Tarrant County and one in Lamar County. They also pointed out that Nowden wasn’t a newcomer to the criminal courts. He had been involved in numerous theft and fraud cases over the years. Ultimately, he would be sentenced to 80 years in prison. Four decades behind bars.
Violating the law often carries harsh penalties and sometimes these sentences seem too harsh, like the prosecutor had a vendetta or a special interest in locking someone up and keeping them off the streets. Nowden’s sentence is particularly harsh considering his offense was a nonviolent crime.
But despite how harsh his sentence seems, it is allowable under the law because of the offense he was accused of and also his criminal history. A judge is allowed to take many things into consideration when sentencing a convicted offender. With the direction of a prosecutor, that sentence can be particularly severe when aggravating factors are present.
Your criminal history can play a major role in the penalty phase of a criminal case. Even if the charge you are facing seems relatively minor, it could result in a lengthy sentence if you have a significant record or even if you get the wrong prosecutor or wrong judge on the wrong day.
Understanding just what goes into the determination of not only your sentence but the law you are accused of violation can be confusing. A local criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the criminal court process and your role within it. We can also work to get you the best results possible on your day in court.
If you are accused of a crime, contact us today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.