As you probably know, criminal cases often resolve before trial. This is usually by way of a plea bargain. Often, at least the first offer made by the prosecution is not to the defendant’s liking. I have had many client turned to me and asked, “What do they want from me? Haven’t I suffered enough?” Much more often than not, I am able to change the offer to one everyone can live with.
That being said, I am reminded of another criminal justice conundrum. Sometimes, one suffers a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. Sometimes the person involved in such a tragedy also faces criminal charges for the tragedy.
Such is the case of a Worcester woman, Christina Castro (hereinafter, “the Defendant”), who was behind the wheel of her vehicle when it had a horrible accident. After pleading not guilty to a number of charges including vehicular homicide, she was held on $50,000 bail. Those injured, or killed, where her children. Killed was her three-year-old son.
According to law enforcement, The Defendant may have been driving more than 70 miles per hour when she allegedly fled the scene of a minor accident. It was then that the accident apparently happened. To make the accident worse, the children were not properly restrained in the car according to the police.
The result of the accident was that The Defendant’s five-year-old son suffered critical injuries while the Defendant and her five-year-old boy, both thrown out of the vehicle, sustained minor injuries. The three-year-old was killed
Attorney Sam’s Take On Human Suffering, Tragedy And The Justice System
You can almost hear the mother’s plea right now. “What on earth do they want from me? I have lost one child and injured it to others! Have I not suffered enough?”
And you can hear the prosecution answer, “apparently not.”
This short story, coming from the news earlier this week, presents a couple of important points that we have discussed in previous blogs.
Often, I seem to describe prosecutors as machinelike and without any thought or feeling. While, in a number of cases, this may appear to be true, it really is not. It is a matter of perception. It is the same matter through which many people consider what I do for a living to be abhorrent . The fact is, in our criminal justice system, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney are vital.
A prosecutor is a human being who, like all of us, has been indoctrinated in a certain way. He or she also does not want to lose their job or career. Sometimes they are happy with their job and sometimes they are not. Like all of us. Are there some prosecutors who take a little bit of joy in crushing anyone they suspect is guilty of a crime? Sure. Just like there are some defense attorneys who believe that all cops and all prosecutors are constant liars. Neither view is correct, of course, but it is their perspective.
If those who are prosecuting the Defendant are to believe what the police say happened in the accident, which we must believe they do, their job in this case is undoubtably distasteful to a certain extent. They face the issue of punishing a woman who, most likely, cannot really be punished anymore than she already is because of her own deeds. I daresay that they could lock her up for the rest of her life and that pain will not be worse than the pain she is already facing now.
However, from the prosecutors viewpoint, a child has died, as many other people could have, because the Defendant fled the scene of a minor motor vehicle accident.
Whether or not the prosecutor feels badly for the Defendant personally is going to have to be put aside for purposes of prosecution. Now, I would argue that a great deal of compassion should enter into any kind of disposition in this case, should the Defendant be found guilty. How that compassion presents itself is another question for another day. If The Defendant has a decent criminal defense attorney, that will be one of the ways in which this case will be approached. It will be vital to present the human being and the human suffering that the Defendant represents.
However, that will not stop the prosecution in its tracks. There will be a prosecution and, if the defendant is found guilty, there will be punishment.
The question of “haven’t I suffered enough?”, While it will and should be used by the defense attorney is likely to be irrelevant to some extent for the prosecutor. That is, unless the defense attorney is very experienced and very good at the job.
“Are there really other important points in the story?”
Yes. A critical one. And we will deal with that one in my next blog.
For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to