There are all kinds of criminal cases throughout America, and if you're caught breaking the law, odds are you'll have to deal with some sort of punishment as a result. For most criminal offenses, it can be understandable to guess why the penalty may differ-- for example, scraping someone's car while you're driving under the influence will have a lighter punishment than if another driver were to die under the same circumstances. In certain criminal situations, however, it seems as if the punishment to fit the crime should be more standard (or at least very similar) across the board. In murder cases specifically, it would seem as if an individual who was responsible for the premeditated death of another person would receive similar punishments across the board-- but that's not reality. Take a look at these two murder cases and discover the reason why two of the same situations were resolved in completely different ways:
Two Case Studies
The similarities in the cases are striking-- but see if you can determine which of these two women received the death penalty for their actions and which was set free after a simple three months in a mental health facility:
- Galie Owens, a woman from Tennessee suffering from battered woman's syndrome at the hands of her husband, decided one day that she had had enough of the abuse. Hiring a stranger to do the deed for her, Owens planned the death of her husband (which was carried out successfully by the hired hand).
- Mary Winkler, also of Tennessee and suffering from the same syndrome, decided that the abuse she had taken from her husband had gone too far... so she shot him in the back with a shotgun.
Three Months Versus the Death Penalty
Have you decided which woman received the death penalty and which only received three months in a mental health facility? Most people would guess that Winkler, the one who killed her husband with her own hand, would receive the higher punishment-- but in actuality, it's the exact opposite. The difference in the cases has little to do with the details of the actual murder, and everything to do with the pleas each woman made in court. By pleading not guilty due to her status as a battered wife, Winkler was able to essentially claim a mental health condition and receive a much lower punishment. On the other hand, Owens was not able to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor, gaining her a spot on death row.
Navigating Your Criminal Case
So what's the moral of the story when it comes to your own criminal conviction case? These true and nearly identical stories serve as an important reminder that having a strong attorney to help you navigate your case is vital if you hope to receive the best possible conviction. While the details of your case are important, the final judgement may come down to accepting a plea deal or finding other ways to avoid huge penalties-- and no one knows better than your lawyer such as Spaulding & Kitzler, LLC how to do that.