IN 1962, three inmates at Alcatraz prison in San Francisco put into action their escape from the island prison. The inmates made plaster casts of their bodies to fool guards into thinking they were sound asleep and tunneled through the maintenance corridors of the high security prison. The escapees then patched together makeshift rafts made out of prison issued raincoats and set off into the frigid San Francisco bat. The three men were never seen again, and noon truly knows their fate. Fantastical escape stories like that capture the imagination of Americans who yearn for freedom, and the idea of escaping from a lifetime of imprisonment is certainly a romantic one.
The reality is that escape is a serious criminal offense. Escaping from the grasps of the law is not an easy endeavor and even a successful escape will lead to the escapee being labelled the jurisdiction’s most wanted person. Because of the expenses and media attention that often accompany escape attempts, convictions for escape very often lead to serious prison sentences and other harsh penalties. If you or a family member have been charged with escape, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer.Elements of Escape
Pursuant to Florida Statute 944.40, a person can be convicted of escape if he or she is a “prisoner confined in, or released on furlough from, any prison, jail, private correctional facility, road camp, or other penal institution, whether operated by the state, a county, or a municipality, or operated under a contract with the state, a county, or a municipality, working upon the public roads, or being transported to or from a place of confinement who escapes or attempts to escape from such confinement”
The first element of escape requires a certain designation for the defendant. Namely, any person charged with escape must first be a “prisoner.” This is an important definition because it limits the circumstances that a person can be charged with escape. For example, someone who as just been arrested off of the street by police and attempts to escape would probably be innocent of the criminal charge of escape because he or she is not a “prisoner confined” in a jail or prison as required by the statute. Understanding the nuances of the criminal statute is important and a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer will be able to use the words of the statute itself to aid in your defense.
While the escape law calls to mind dramatic escapes from the grasps of the law by tunneling through prison walls or escaping from the courtroom with the help of accomplices, the language of the law allows for far less dramatic circumstances to be charged as escape. Often, prisons will use inmates to perform labor outside of the prison walls. Jumpsuited prisoners working maintenance on the side of the road are a common sight in towns and roadways nearby to a prison. A person who orchestrates an escape from one of these labor “chain gangs” could also be convicted of escape.
On rare occasions, courts will be willing to release certain prisoners on what is known as a furlough. While furloughs are rare and granted in only specific circumstances, they do happen. Commonly, furloughs can be granted to allow prisoners a temporary release to attend funerals of family members or to attend to sick children. If a prisoner fails to return from furlough, they face the criminal charge of escape.
Escape is a second degree felony offense that is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Unlike other second degree felonies, the escape statute includes a special sentencing conviction. If convicted of escape, the sentence received must be served consecutively with whatever other prison or jail sentences are imposed upon the defendant. To try to avoid these harsh penalties, those charged with escape should retain a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to defend them.Speak to a Lawyer Today
THe attorneys at Hanlon Law are here to help you build your defense. Call us today at 727.897.5413.