Man convicted of drunk driving forced to wear sign admitting guilt

Most people in Minnesota think that someone who is found guilty of vehicular manslaughter would be sentenced to jail or prison or given a fine. Other types of punishment are rare and often call into question whether the form of punishment is actually permissible. There has been a controversy after a man convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol was forced to wear a sign that said he killed someone while driving drunk.

This kind of punishment is atypical. Even if someone admits his or her guilt to a vehicular manslaughter, he or she is rarely publically humiliated. It appeared that the 39-year-old driver had gotten on the bad side of the judge in his trial when the judge commented that the driver made him nervous. It seems that instead of sentencing the man to a longer sentence or including an additional community service component to the sentence, he forced the driver to wear the sign for four consecutive Saturdays at the scene of the accident.

The judge also ordered that the man keep a framed picture of the 20-year-old man that died in his home.

While there are a variety of purposes for punishing people convicted of a crime, public humiliation has not been one for a long time. It is fortunate, however, that these types of punishment are not found in Minnesota. Vehicular homicide or manslaughter is a serious charge and requires strong criminal defense, certainly, but someone convicted on these charges will most likely not be forced to humiliate themselves.

Source: The Syracuse Post-Standard, “Texas drunk driver ordered to wear ‘I killed Aaron Coy Pennywell’ sign,” Matt Harrigan, April 23, 2012

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.