The complaint that there is different criminal justice for the rich is nothing new – and once in a while, a case comes up to bolster the criticism.
Take, for example, the case of Ryan LeVin, who dodged a prison sentence for killing two men in a hit and run accident in Florida. Although he faced a lengthy prison sentence, prosecutors asked for 10 years, but he could have gotten up to 45 – for killing British businessmen Craig Elford and Kenneth Watkinson, LeVin was instead sentenced to two years of house arrest.
And why did this man get such a lenient sentence, despite having 50 traffic violations under his belt? Some call it checkbook justice. Thanks to the support of Elford’s and Watkinson’s widows, who asked that LeVin receive leniency if he immediately settled the wrongful death suit they filed against him, the hit-and-run driver was able to evade prison.
Florida Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said that this sentence undermines the justice system and should never have been allowed. “Our clients in similar situations, in every case, go to prison for substantial periods of time,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “If it is appropriate that you not go to prison when you have money, it should also be appropriate that you not go to prison when you have no money.”
Despite the public outrage, the widows of LeVin’s victims say that they made the right choice and that they need the money to support their children as single mothers.
Wrongful Death Claims Resulting From Auto Accidents
A family member of a fatal car accident victim may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver for damages stemming from the accident. If it is shown that the driver’s negligence caused the fatal accident, family members may be entitled to compensation for losses such as medical bills, loss of income, funeral expenses, loss of consortium and pain and suffering.