Jurors hand down probation in DUI case

Sentence latest in probation trend

SAN ANTONIO - A jury returned a sentence of 10 years probation Thursday for convicted drunken driver James Trimble.

Trimble was driving drunk on his motorcycle when he crashed, killing his passenger on board.

It's the latest in a string of high-profile probation sentences handed down by juries and there are a few possibilities as to why juries hand out the sentences they do.

"The jury does consider that's its an unintentional killing, and they have a right to consider who these people are," said Roy Barrera Sr., a defense attorney in San Antonio.

In other words, if a person shows positive character, it helps his or her case.

Probation sentences like those also see a hint of judicial politics.

"These cases more and more are being sent to juries because judges are not inclined to give probation," said Barrera.

He argued judges don't want to seem soft to potential voters and are therefore more apt to hand down prison terms.

Probation is also within the law. It's a perfectly legal punishment that jurors are required to take into account.

"They don't have to give it, but they have to consider it the same as any other part of the punishment," said Barrera.

But those experience in law often agree on one thing.

"Each case is different," said Barrera. "That's why people say you never can guess what a jury is going to do."


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