Last year, a Pompano Beach man was convicted of a slew of burglary and robbery charges. He faced up to 60 years in prison. The judge deferred his sentence in lieu of probation. But then, he was stopped for driving without a license. He was hauled back into court and sentenced to the full 60 years in prison. Following widespread backlash, the Broward Circuit judge had a change of heart. Community leaders at a hearing promised to work with the 24-year-old defendant, Herbert Smith. They were going to help him find a job and keep him out of trouble. The judge agreed once again to suspend the 60-year prison term. The caveat was that any violation of that probation – no matter how minor – could result in that 60-year sentence being reinstated.
Then just before Thanksgiving of this year, Smith was arrested, accused of a burglary that took place in September. He was identified as one of two men who broke into a home in Parkland and heisted $30,000 worth of jewelry. It didn’t look good for the defendant, especially because probation violations don’t have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, Smith got another break when prosecutors recently decided not to pursue the burglary charge or the probation violation. They dismissed both, finding there was not enough evidence to move forward. Continue reading