PARIS HILTON GETS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
BY ALLISON MARGOLIN
The world of LA's Dopest Attorney
JUSTICE has finally prevailed in the Paris Hilton case. Contrary to the suggestions of naysayers, Paris was treated fairly by the L.A. Sheriff's Department.
As a criminal-defense attorney who deals on a daily basis with the realities of the court and jail system in Los Angeles, I've seen more than enough cases to know Paris didn't get special treatment. In fact, most low-level offenders sentenced to county jail typically serve no more than 10 percent of their sentences, no matter what the county court dictates.
Paris entered Lynwood facilities on Sunday night and was released Thursday on the condition she wear an ankle bracelet for another 40 days. The L.A. Sheriff's Department has reported that Hilton was reassigned to the electronic-monitoring program because she has come down with an undisclosed illness. Authorities said they would not disclose the nature of the illness due to privacy issues.
Hilton is not receiving special treatment, as everyone in her position is allowed to participate in the electronic-monitoring program. In fact, it would be a deviation from standard operating procedures if the sheriff's deprived her the opportunity to do so.
Anyone who has been convicted of a low-level misdemeanor who has no history of violence is eligible to be released from custody if he or she agrees to participate in an EMP or some type of a work-release program. According to deputies at the Twin Towers inmate reception center, as soon as defendants are placed in custody for low-level offenses, they are automatically screened for eligibility in either of these programs.
The only catch for Paris Hilton and all other misdemeanants is that if they choose one of these options, they are required to complete their entire sentence. Paris must now complete 40 days of electronic monitoring, and she is given credit for her five days in custody.
Paris Hilton's release to an EMP is the first time justice has been served in her case. Unfortunately her original sentence of 45 days for violating probation is all too common, and a horrible use of law-enforcement resources.
There was evidence to suggest that Hilton, like so many others convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses failed to understand the consequences of that charge to the status of her license. Even if the court doesn't take an offender's license, the Department of Motor Vehicles almost always does - and many defendants never know about it.
Regardless of whether defendants truly appreciate these consequences, jails should not be more overcrowded than they already are by their presence. The public would be better served by making the violators take additional courses on safe driving and on DMV rules than to further mire our jail system.
Don't get me wrong: Paris is lucky that she can participate in electronic monitoring because she can pay the daily fee associated with it - approximately $100. But poor defendants are eligible for work relief, in which low-level misdemeanor defendants can serve their sentence by converting it to work done for the county on the weekends.
The criminal-justice system is filled with inequities and yes, a lot of them are based on wealth. For example, the ability of defendants to bail out of jail pending trial often dictates the likelihood of their pleading guilty. However, everyone in Hilton's position may take advantage of EMP or work-release programs. Even where a judge has said EMP is not an option, as in Hilton's case, a sheriff's jurisdiction most often supersedes the court's decision.
L.A.'s jails are horrible places full of fights, sickness, bacteria, filth, overcrowding and abuse. No one should have to endure these conditions, especially nonviolent offenders.
Allison Margolin is a criminal-defense attorney in L.A. Contact her through her blog, www.lasdopestattorney.com.
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