Friday, August 17, 2012


even murder may have biological causes in Clearwater, Largo, St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay,
Lucas Cranach, Judith Victorious, 1530
Occasionally biology can be shown to be the direct cause of someone's unlawful act. How responsible is someone for a crime committed where biology directly caused the crime, such as the murder of thirteen people in Texas by a shooter who was later found to have a brain tumor that seems to have been the bio-trigger of his actions? In essence aren't we looking at the judo-christian notion of free will? Shouldn't judges be given the discretion to look at bio-triggers where found as a plausible cause or contributor of an action because the Defendant must be found to have the unfettered free will to commit the unlawful act.
When evidence of a Defendant's predisposition to commit violent crime was presented to Judges in a controlled hypothetical study of sentencing in a study recently reported in the journal Science, the Judges used the information to reduce sentences even where the bio-trigger arguably meant that Defendants were more likely to commit violent crime in the future, making at least one Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer glad that it was a hypothetical set of facts and that the hypothetical violent defendants live in darkest limbo rather than right next door.
This result of the study is path-breaking because Judges may be willing to reduce sentences where relevant biological testimony based on brain scans or other relevant neuroscience establishes that behavioral mechanisms of the mind and body were factors in unlawful conduct suitable for departure from sentencing norms. 

Will Tampa Bay Florida Judges be willing to use this kind of evidence? Don't count on it. And if our Judges use the information in mitigation should they also be able to use it in aggravation of sentence?
Though the study only dealt with violent crime sentencing, your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney believes that Defendants who establish biological propensity, necessity or inevitability for nonviolent drug crimes would also have an excellent argument to go under unfair statutory drug crime minimum mandatory sentences, where the discretion from Judges needs to be expanded to find better results.