A Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge has sentenced an Opa-locka man to 18 months in state prison for allegedly taking lobster traps.
The 42 year-old man must also serve 3 years of probation following his sentence.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officers claim that the accused had taking lobster traps that did not belong to him. He was charged with 28 counts, 3 of which were felonies. One of the felonies he was charged with was tampering with physical evidence because the accused allegedly dumped the lobster tails overboard when Florida Fish and Wildlife officers approached.
While an 18-month prison sentence for this type of crime seems a bit harsh, the accused does have a considerable criminal record that includes several felony convictions. The 18-month prison sentence likely falls within the accused’s guideline range, pursuant to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.
Still, prosecutors have the ability to offer pleas that are below the bottom of the recommended sentencing guidelines.
While I do not know all of the facts of this case, I can assure you that state prison time for stealing lobster traps is unreasonably excessive. A year in county jail would have been more than enough.
If anything, this type of sentence shows that if you have an extensive criminal record, you are more likely to serve prison time for silly crimes such as this one.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.