Two Missouri residents have been granted a relatively light sentence in connection with felony charges for looting in the Joplin area after a devastating tornado. The men, ages 32 and 45, had pleaded guilty to stealing copper wire from the town's streets during the aftermath of the deadly weather event that struck in May 2011. The official charge in the case was stealing wire from a public utility.

Instead of facing hard time, the pair will be placed on supervised probation for a period of five years. The men's actual seven-year prison sentence has been suspended. If they violate their probation, they could be sent back into federal custody.

Authorities report the pair, along with another 34-year-old man, cut wire from the Empire District Electric Company. Officers observed the group taking the wire by using bolt cutters, loading the wire into their vehicles. The men were found with a full load of copper wire while driving a truck with the logo of a food-distribution company. In addition, the men allegedly told police they not only had permission to take the wire, but they would also donate any money earned from the sale of the items to a charitable cause.

The third defendant also pleaded guilty in the case, but he has been ordered to serve three years' prison time in connection with his misdeeds.

In this case, it is obvious to see the difference in the skill levels between one defendant's attorney and the other. Not only did the two men in question avoid jail altogether, but they were sentenced to simple probation when a co-defendant was required to serve hard time. Criminal defense attorneys can help such defendants by developing legal strategies to promote positive outcomes such as probation.

If you are facing similar criminal charges, consider seeking the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities, allowing you to make educated choices about your courtroom options.

Source:  www.joplinglobe.com, "Two granted probation in tornado looting case" Jeff Lehr, Jul. 22, 2013