The Sun Sentinel published an article today, June 10, 2011, discussing the sentencing disparity between two criminal cases: State v. Ryan LeVin, and State v. Maximo Gordon. While LeVin was fortunate to receive the benefit of a downward departure, Gordon was not so lucky. LeVin’s downward departure was the result of negotiations between counsel for the Defendant and counsel representing the family of the victims. Counsel argued that LeVin should not be imprisoned because the need for restitution to the family outweighed the need for imprisonment. Although the State requested an unspecified term of imprisonment, the Judge ultimately sided with the Defendant and imposed a sentence that allows LeVin to remain on house arrest in his parent’s oceanfront condo. However, Gordon received a sentence of over four years’ imprisonment.
Both LeVin and Gordon each had prior criminal records. But LeVin, who fatally struck two British businessmen and fled in his Porsche, gets to remain on house arrest, while Gordon, who fled officers on an ATV in a field in Deerfield Beach and injured nobody, gets sentenced to over 4 years’ imprisonment. While the ultimate sentence imposed is always at the discretion of the Judge, and each case needs to be considered on its own merits, the striking disparity in sentencing in these two cases does little to refute the public impression that those with money receive different treatment from the courts than those without money. Let’s hope that is not what occurred here.