After a Texas man receives his ninth DUI, he faces the possibility of a life in prison sentence. Retired Superior Court Judge of Santa Clara, California Eugene Hyman says that given the fact that this man had nine prior DUI's, it's reasonable to assume he'll go to prison. The question is, he adds, is whether a life sentence is likely to happen and if so, if it's considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Having priors enhances the case from a misdemeanor to a felony, says Hyman, who believes the media is hyping that he has already received a life sentence, which is misleading. To clarify, he says he's received a sentence that's "possibly" a life sentence, in which case, he can be paroled in as soon as five years.
Under the federal standards for cruel and unusual punishment, being paroled after five years is probably not cruel and unusual punishment, says Hyman, especially given his nine prior DUI's. If he were to actually get a life sentence, the question then is raised whether it would be cruel and unusual punishment, notes Hyman, and that under the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, it probably would be cruel and unusual punishment, especially since these are non-violent offenses.
Hyman says that it is important to see how he behaves in prison, in terms of the possibility of him getting paroled. "The tone of the media seems to be emphasizing he'll be spending the rest of his life in prison and that is not the case," adds Hyman.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network.