How Defense Attorneys Saved a Jealous Wife from a Chemical Weapons Charge
Carol Bond’s case reads like a bad script from a cable television show. In 2006, Carol congratulated her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, on Myrlinda’s recent pregnancy – until Carol discovered her own husband was the father. Carol decided to “punish” Myrlinda by attempting to poison her former friend. Carol stole a few chemicals from work and ordered a few toxins online. Carol coated her friend’s door knob, car door, and mailbox with the orange chemicals over two dozen times. Although the chemicals were lethal in large doses, Carol only intended to harass her victim. Despite all the shenanigans, her husband’s lover only received a thumb rash.
At this point, Carol’s case took a weird turn. Carol’s abuse of her friend’s mailbox drew the attention of federal prosecutors. They set up cameras and caught Carol in the act. The federal government charged her with mail theft and possession/usage of chemical weapons. The second criminal charge for use of chemical weapons made the case extremely unusual. The prosecution’s chemical weapons charge allowed Carol’s case to go before the United States Supreme Court not once, but twice.
The problem with the chemical weapons charge is that the law the federal government is relying on was passed to enforce a chemical weapons ban treaty. The purpose of the treaty was to limit weapons of mass destruction and combat terrorism. This week, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not apply the law to run-of-the-mill police cases.
This Is Why We Need Defense Attorneys
So what’s the big deal with charging Carol with an extra crime? Many people believe the value of our legal system is to separate the innocent from the guilty. That’s true, but there will be cases like Carol Bond’s where all the facts indicate that the defendant did something wrong. What value does a criminal defense attorney have to a defendant like this?
Criminal defense lawyers try to keep their clients from having a guilty verdict slapped onto them. However, they also make sure their clients are charged with the right crimes. Certain crimes obviously carry different punishments. Mail theft carries a maximum of five years in prison. The penalty for a chemical weapons charge ranges from a life prison term to the death penalty. Carol Bond would much rather be guilty of mail theft than the chemical weapons charge.
More importantly, defense attorneys check the power of the federal government. Cases like Carol Bond keep the government honest. At most, Carol Bond committed mail theft, harassment, and/or assault against her husband’s lover. That’s worth a few years in prison. If federal prosecutors had succeeded in its chemical weapons charge though, the implication would have been that Carol was some kind of terrorist who used weapons of mass destruction. Criminal defense lawyers ensure that the government plays fair, even when dealing with criminals.