Leslie, one of our Supergirl Radio Legal Consultants, wrote in with some thoughts to provide more information about Simon Kirby’s mother and her legal troubles.
In Supergirl’s “In Plain Sight” episode, Simon Kirby’s mother received a 10-year sentence for stealing a space heater. The following is my personal opinion as an attorney how much the 10-year sentence comment irked me.That the mother of Simon, one of the three urchins, living in James and Kelly’s aunt’s house was sentenced to 10 years for allegedly stealing only a space heater was irksome, misleading, and unnecessary claptrap. I had to ignore this comment just like I ignored Steve Lomeli in the “Crime and Punishment” episode, who claimed that Supergirl destroys “exculpatory evidence,” when, in fact, in an effort to rescue someone or to save the day, Supergirl could destroy all evidence, whether that evidence would help the defense or the prosecution.I found the commentary on the legal and court system annoying. Prisons need room for terrorists, murders, robbers, etc., not for petty thieves with an underage child at home.Depending on a particular state’s laws, could Simon’s mother receive a 10-year sentence for only allegedly stealing a space heater? The short answer is yes. But is such a sentence likely? No, especially if Simon’s mother was a first-time offender.People, out of embarrassment, just love to downplay their relative’s prior criminal history. We have no idea what his mother’s prior criminal history was nor the value of the space heater she stole. Did the space heater cost $9.99 or $699.99? The value of the stolen item makes a difference in the charges. Did his mother use force in taking or escaping with the space heater? The use of force could convert this alleged theft into a robbery, a very serious offense.If Simon’s mother was on probation, she would have been warned not to commit any new crimes because a violation of probation means she could be re-sentenced to the maximum sentence for each crime for which she was on probation. For instance, if Simon’s mother received probation for two crimes which had a maximum sentence of five years each, a judge could re-sentence his mother to 10 years in prison, (5 years x 2 offenses = 10 years). Again, such a sentence is unlikely and if such a sentence was rendered, states afford defendants the constitutional right to appeal to a higher court.Except for the federal system, most criminal defendants only serve 20 to 25% of the sentence imposed. A defendant sentenced to 5 years would only serve about a year. Defendants also receive time off for good behavior and work credits. In the federal system, there are sentencing guidelines which suggest sentencing ranges for certain offenses.Judges are required to sentence criminal defendants within the sentencing guidelines established in state law. If a judge imposes an excessive or illegal sentence, defendants have a right to appeal that sentence to a higher court and if they cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to handle the appeal at no expense to the defendant.I thoroughly enjoy watching Supergirl, but I found the 10-year sentence comment ridiculous and unnecessary to the overall plot of James wanting to take over the local Calvintown newspaper. I guess the Supergirl writers do not know that attorneys actually watch this show, too.– Leslie