Law Offices of Jess C. Bedore III - Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
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Movie viewing part of punishment for woman caught shoplifting

Imagine that you are sent before a judge after committing a minor crime. You think that what is about to transpire will ruin your life. You're expecting the judge to throw the proverbial book at you, and that your life will never be the same after this. Instead, the judge has a very frank conversation with you about crimes and the nature of criminal activity. The judge wants you to participate in this discussion, so he assigns you a movie to watch.

Yes, that's right -- you have to watch a movie. That's part of your punishment. And if you follow through, the judge will reduce the rest of your punishment.

If this sounds fake, we can hardly blame you. It sounds like something out of a dream. However, this really happened in a courtroom recently. A woman who stole a bottle of cough syrup for her children -- during a time when she didn't have a job -- was sent before a judge. The judge offered her the chance to watch the film "Les Miserables" to learn about criminal activity and the lessons that can be learned from committing such offenses.

The judge said if the woman watched "Les Mis" and then came back to court and discussed it with him, he would reduce the fine she was likely to get.

Leniency truly is an amazing thing to hear about, isn't it? If only more minor crimes were handled in a similar way to this shoplifting case, then there would probably be a very different perception of the criminal justice system.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Judge finds lesson in 'Les Miserables' for mom who stole cough syrup," Jim Stingl, Nov. 1, 2014

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