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A man who absconded for more than 17 years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery charges will not be sent to prison, a Brooklyn Supreme Court justice has ruled. Carlos Alcarin failed to appear in court from January 1983 until May 2000, after tendering a guilty plea in exchange for a promised sentence of 18 to 60 months’ incarceration. But rather than impose the sentence as promised, Justice Yvonne Lewis agreed to allow Alcarin to plead guilty to a lesser crime and sentence him to probation. In People v. Carlos Alcarin, 1453/82, Lewis said that “[s]ending Mr. Alcarin to jail would result in absolutely no gain for society.” She agreed with Joseph Santo, Alcarin’s lawyer, that the defendant should be credited for not experiencing any “negative contacts” with the judicial system, providing the primary support for himself and his elderly mother, and committing his 1982 crime while suffering the effects of withdrawal from drug addiction. Prosecutors argued that Alcarin must be held accountable for his actions, and that a person with an open bench warrant could not be said to be have lived a “law-abiding life” for the past 17 years. But Lewis took the position that Alcarin’s life since 1983 amply demonstrated that he is rehabilitated and justified the dismissal of the robbery case in the interest of justice. “The fact that throughout the pendency of the warrant Mr. Alcarin has exhibited no anti-social behavior, perpetrated no violence of any kind, and has incurred no re-arrest for any other crime, evinces that he can indeed be law-abiding,” she wrote. Lewis called the possible imprisonment of the defendant “the infliction of punishment for punishment’s sake” and a “token measure” that would be “non-rehabilitative.” Moreover, she gave great weight to Alcarin’s support for his ailing mother. “Neither sentencing on [Alcarin's] current plea, nor a new prosecution on this indictment, if the plea were vacated, would benefit society to the extent that his employment and the care of his mother does,” Lewis wrote. The court also pointed out that litigating the validity of Alcarin’s plea almost 18 years after it was given would be extremely difficult, since the transcript of the allocution no longer exists, and the judge who presided in the case is deceased.

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