COVID-19 ravaged prisons throughout Florida and the country, ultimately costing many people their lives. In light of that fact, the Florida courts have granted some inmates compassionate release. The mere fact that a person may contract COVID-19 is not adequate grounds for granting such relief, though, as discussed in a recent opinion issued by a Florida court. If you have questions regarding compassionate release or your rights as a criminal defendant, it is in your best interest to speak to a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was indicted for multiple counts of fraud and receiving healthcare kickbacks in violation of federal law. She entered into a plea agreement for one of the counts and was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She began serving her sentence in October 2021 after delaying her surrender date on multiple occasions. She then moved for compassionate release due to the risk of contracting COVID-19 during her incarceration. The government filed a response in opposition to her motion. The court ultimately denied her request.
Grounds for Granting Compassionate Release
While the court noted that the defendant exhausted her administrative remedies as required to seek such relief, it nonetheless found that compassionate release was not warranted for numerous reasons. First, the defendant had not shown that there were compelling and extraordinary reasons supporting her request.
The court explained that if an inmate suffers from a chronic medical condition that the CDC has stated creates an increased risk of becoming critically ill from COVID-19, the condition may constitute a compelling and extraordinary reason for granting a request for compassionate release. This is especially true for inmates that are over the age of 65. The defendant, though, did not suffer from any such conditions. While she had asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, she did not allege that any of her ailments were uncontrolled. Further, she was only 44.
Importantly, the court also stated that any concerns the defendant had about contracting COVID-19 or becoming severely ill if she did were mitigated by the fact that she was fully vaccinated against the virus. Based on the foregoing, the court found that the defendant had not demonstrated that she suffered from a medical condition that placed her at high risk for becoming gravely ill from COVID-19, as required to warrant a compassionate release. Thus, it denied her request.
Speak to an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Rights
People convicted of theft crimes may be sentenced to months or years in prison, but in some cases, there may be grounds for arguing their sentence should be reduced. If you are accused of a theft offense or any other crime, it is prudent to speak with an attorney about your rights. The experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law are adept at helping people charged with crimes fight to protect their interests, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to set up a conference.