Admitted Burglar Received Drug Court Probation Instead of Jail – Did Judge Impose the Right Sentence? [POLL]
A serial burglar admitted this week to having committed more than a dozen burglaries across 6 counties in 2011, right after being released from prison for having committed the same crimes.
And in admitting his crimes, the judge in the case sentences him, not to jail, which is what you would think…but to Drug Court; where he will be under supervised drug testing, court appearances and recovery services.
Sounds like a day at the beach…no?
From what I’m told…far from it.
As part of his admission to the 5 year program, Edward M. Carhardt, Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to a 35-count indictment, including charges for residential burglaries between July and September 2011 in Sussex, Warren, Morris, Somerset, Monmouth and Burlington counties, according to Micheal Chazen, his attorney.
The items allegedly stolen by Carhardt included 30 men’s watches, jewelry, an iPod Touch and three World War II-era swords, prosecutors said.
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office had rejected Carhardt’s petition for Drug Court, but Judge Paul W. Armstrong overruled that decision in December and approved Carhardt’s admission, according to court documents.
Prosecutors have argued that Carhardt is not drug or alcohol dependent and represents a substantial danger to the community, documents state.
In a statement today, Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano said his office would abide by Armstrong’s decision, but found it frustrating.
“The Drug Court program has and will continue to dramatically change the landscape of the criminal justice system in New Jersey. There are, no doubt, very worthy reasons for its creation and expansion,” Soriano said.
“But that having been said, this is an extremely experienced offender who has victimized many with his long history of residential burglaries,” Soriano added. “Admitting this defendant into the Drug Court Program just seems — plain and simple — counter-intuitive.”
Michael Chazen, the attorney for Carhardt, said in a phone interview today that he didn’t know the specifics of his client’s substance abuse, but said Carhardt “claims that his addictive disorder was significant and tied to his criminal conduct.”
“Quite frankly, the state’s concerns are understandable,” Chazen added. “However, I do believe that if Mr. Carhardt takes advantage of the resources of the Drug Court, he will lead a law-abiding and drug-free life.”
After he is sentenced on April 8, Carhardt, who is currently in jail, will likely be transferred to a residential treatment facility, where he will reside on an inpatient basis, Chazen said. If Carhardt makes progress, he could leave the facility and remain in the Drug Court program on an outpatient basis, his attorney said.
But if Carhardt violates the rules of Drug Court, he will likely be sent to state prison, Chazen said.
“And make no mistake about it, the Drug Court is not an easy program,” Chazen added.
Drug Court, as I understand it, is a program set up for the nonviolent drug offender. Whether or not that would include someone convicted of being a serial burglar I’m not so sure…but if those crimes were the result of a drug dependency; then it’s likely the judge in the case acted correctly.
And may have given him a harder sentence than if he were to be sent back to jail, since, as I alluded above, the drug court program isn’t a day at the beach.
Ask anyone who’s been through it and they’ll tell you.