Jose Padilla, who was convicted of supporting terrorist activities and al-Qaida in 2007, recently had the length of his sentence increased in federal appeals court. The 43-year-old man was originally sentenced to serve over 17 years in prison. However, that sentence was discounted by the three years that he spent being held on a South Carolina Navy brig as an enemy combatant prisoner.
Padilla Was First Arrested in 2002
Padilla was first taken into custody at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago in 2002, not long after the September 11th tragedy. Authorities accused him of being involved in an al-Qaida-organized conspiracy to plant a radioactive bomb in the middle of a populous United States city. Those charges were later dropped, but Padilla was soon accused in another terrorism case in Florida in 2005. Those new charges prevented him from being released from captivity.
In 2011, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the alleged terrorist deserved stiffer sentencing and should not have received credit for the three years he spent on the Navy brig. The Appeals Court ruled that the man had a "heightened risk of dangerousness" because he had received training at an Afghanistan al-Qaida camp. The appeals judges' ruling was further supported by the man's previous arrests, criminal background, and history as a street gang member in Chicago.
Padilla’s Sentence Was Ultimately Increased to 21 Years in Prison
In Appeals Court, Padilla's attorneys attempted to get their client's charges thrown out because of the allegedly harsh and tortuous treatment he experienced in captivity. They claimed that the man was administered various drugs, including LSD, as truth serums. They said he was deprived of sleep and subjected to isolation, noxious odors, loud noises, painful standing "stress positions" and extreme heat and cold. Prosecutors tried to upgrade the man's prison sentence to 30 years in the appeal, but his defense counsel obtained a ruling of 21 years in prison for him.
This case is an example of how prosecuting attorneys may try to increase the severity of an accused person's sentence by appealing a lower court's ruling. However, through a diligent and well-planned criminal defense, an individual might try to maintain his or her original sentence or achieve other positive results during an appeal -- such as getting the charges dropped completely.
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