What happens when an elderly individual commits a crime? Do they get the same kind of jail sentence that a younger person would? Are courts more lenient on them?
These are tough questions with even tougher answers because, really, it depends on the judge, the crime, and the health of the individual. Arguably, ten years in prison is different for a 40-year-old person than it is for a 75-year-old person. But courts are split on what to do.
In fact, when Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison in 2018 after being convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, his legal team requested that he be able to serve out his sentence on house arrest because of his age and health. The court denied this request despite his age (he was 81 at the time).
What Do the Studies Say?
There have been two significant studies on the matter, one from 2000 and one from 2014. In the first one, the researchers found that in Pennsylvania, the courts gave offenders over the age of 60 a lighter prison sentence – if they were given a prison sentence at all. In fact, it was 25-30% less likely that elderly criminals would end up behind bars for a crime than a criminal in their 20s would.
The other study from 2014 reviewed whether elderly criminals were treated the same as their younger counterparts in federal court. What they discovered is that most judges gave elderly criminals much lighter sentences.
What Happens to Senior Prison Inmates?
One of the reasons courts may go lighter on elderly criminals is because the expense of incarcerating older offenders, who tend to have declining health and thus greater healthcare needs, is not exactly cost-effective. It costs much more to keep up with their healthcare needs than it does to keep a younger inmate in good health.
How an Attorney Can Help
Elderly individuals accused of a crime have a right to a strong defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have spent years helping elderly defendants gather evidence and witness testimony to best advocate on their behalf. They understand how much different life inside a prison can be for a person in their 80s than it is for a person in their 30s. As such, they will work tirelessly to ensure the court understands why a lighter prison sentence, if there should be any sentence at all, is best.
You cannot rely on a judge taking it easy on your just because of your age. You need a skilled criminal defense attorney to help make that case for you. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are here to help.