JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Former Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown has been convicted, but it could be a long time before her fate in the legal system is determined.
Her convictions on 18 of 22 counts can be appealed. Her legal team can also request a new trial altogether. In either case, Brown's convictions could be overturned or disappear altogether.
Lawyer James Smith, who defended Brown, hinted moments after her conviction that she will spend little, if any, time in prison.
Our Verify Team wanted to examine Smith's assertion about whether or not little-to-no jail time is possible. We spoke with Randy Reep, a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville who is not associated with the case.
CLAIM NO. 1: Corrine Brown won't serve prison time.
"In the federal system, the judge isn't required to sentence [Brown] in accordance with the guidelines," Reep said. "He can do a downward or upward departure from the guidelines, but a substantial departure, I think, would be unlikely."
- VERIFIED: Although Reep made it clear that Brown would likely face some prison time, we verify that the judge could give her a sentence that doesn't include incarceration if he sees fit.
CLAIM NO. 2: Corrine Brown will serve nearly 300 years.
Had she been convicted on all 22 of the charges, Brown faced a potential 357-year sentence. Reep told First Coast News, he calculates the possible term at 277 years given that Brown was acquitted on four counts.
In many criminal cases bearing multiple convictions, judges often 'stack' sentences to run concurrently. For example, five 20-year sentences often don't add to a 100-year term. Instead, they can be served in one 20-year timeframe, or "concurrently."
Reep told First Coast News, "It's extraordinary to run them consecutive and I don't think for any reason that would be the case here."
- FALSE: Although conceivable that Brown's sentences could be laid out end-to-end totaling 277 years, it defies all likelihood, so we say it's false.
CLAIM NO. 3: Corrine Brown's track record and testimony will influence her sentencing.
Reep also pointed out the danger in giving Brown a lesser sentence than any conspirators who testified in exchange for leniency. He cautioned that doing so would undermine the power of such offered incentives in any future criminal case.
We also verified that many non-trial-related factors will be considered by the judge as he renders punishment. Reep assured that Brown's decades of public service, lack of previous legal trouble, age, and accomplishments are just a few items that will weigh in her favor. He also discussed that Brown's choice to testify on her own behalf could backfire in sentencing.
"The fact that she took the stand and the jury found that what she was saying wasn't true is not helpful," Reep said. "It's actually an aggravator."
- VERIFIED: Corrine Brown's sentence will indeed be influenced by her life before and after the accusations surfaced.
As a final note, although Reep stressed that such cases make bold predictions very difficult to make, he said he wouldn't be surprised if, when all is said and done, Brown receives prison time between three and seven years.