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"Drug Pushing" Nets Doctor 25 Years in Prison

In Tampa, a 76-year-old former doctor was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for prescribing pain medication to three individuals who later died. At the man’s sentencing he was described as unremorseful as the judge meted out punishment, describing the man as a “drug pusher.” In his defense, the man suggested that he was unaware that he was breaking the law. The man also asked the judge to show leniency to his wife who was also charged with drug- and financial conspiracy-related charges (the man was found to be responsible for the individuals’ deaths.)

Does Showing Remorse Actually Help at Sentencing?

There is quite a bit of talk in any criminal case resulting in a conviction about whether the defendant exhibited “remorse” during the trial or at his or her sentencing. “Remorse” in this context refers to any visible showing of guilt or sadness over having committed the alleged criminal act. Remorse can involve crying and sobbing, hanging one’s head when the alleged crime is described, or making an apology to the court and/or victims. Defendants may express remorse as a way of convincing a court to impose a less severe sentence.

Showing genuine remorse for a crime rarely hurts a convicted defendant. That is, if a criminal defendant truly feels sorry or ashamed of having committed a criminal act, expressing this feeling through words and/or body language is unlikely to harm the defendant’s opportunity to receive a less severe sentence. (Of course, if false apologies or insincere remorse is detected this can harm the defendant’s case as the sentencing judge may view the defendant as manipulative and thus deserving of more severe sanctions). An expression f remorse is likely to be most effective if the expression is:

  • Accompanied by an admission of guilt for committing the crime;
  • Specific as to why the defendant feels remorse for the alleged criminal act;
  • Indicative as to how the defendant plans to change his or her life or what “life lesson” the defendant has earned;
  • Made by a person with a very minor criminal history, or by a person who has not committed the crime of which he or she has just been convicted;
  • Expressed to the family.

Cautions with Expressions of Remorse

You should discuss any planned expression of remorse with your attorney before such expression is made. Your attorney can help you understand what effect, if any, your expression of remorse is likely to have in your case. Your attorney can also help you choose the appropriate words to use and will work any statement of remorse you decide to make into your sentencing defense strategy.

Jeffrey S. Weiner, Miami criminal defense attorney, has been assisting Floridians charged with criminal offenses for years. He vigorously defends the rights of his clients in court and out of court, working diligently to assist them in experiencing the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. Contact his office to schedule a free initial case consultation by calling (305) 670-9919 or contact his firm online today.

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