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An Indiana Carjacking Suspect Was Granted Pretrial Release...What Happened Next Was a Real Curveball

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

It's hard to believe Democrats continue to argue for lenient prosecution guidelines and falsely dubbed "compassionate" treatment for suspected criminals who end up treated like victims by "progressive" prosecutors — but they do, despite all the damning stories of what happens when those who commit serious crimes are handled with kid gloves. 

Enter an Indiana man named Derrick Hart, who was charged on September 26, 2018 with attempted carjacking, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone. Not exactly a low-level offense. 

After being charged, Hart was granted pretrial release with monitoring on the condition that he would face an additional ten years in prison if he committed another federal felony offense while he awaited trial. For the justice system, that's considered deterrent enough to keep a suspected criminal from reoffending until their actions can be judged by a jury of their peers. Not so in Hart's case. 

In December 2018, Hart cut off his ankle bracelet and didn't waste any time returning to lawlessness. On December 13 of that year, Hart approached a driver and pulled a 9mm handgun, grabbed the victim's phone, and demanded cash. The victim had no cash, only credit cards, so Hart forced the victim to drive him, at gunpoint, to a nearby ATM. 

The victim tried to alert an armored truck crew that was transferring cash at the ATM, but was unsuccessful. Hart ordered the victim to drive to another ATM, at which point the victim tried to disarm Hart. The ensuing struggle led the victim to crash his vehicle into a fence. Hart bailed and shot the victim in the arm at which point Hart's victim returned fire with his own gun, hitting Hart twice as he fled the scene of the crash. 

Police responded to the fracus and captured Hart — finding him with a spare magazine, loose 9mm rounds, a small amount of marijuana — and later found the gun he'd tossed earlier. 

The Department of Justice announced this week that Hart, finally, was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison after he plead guilty to the charges of carjacking, discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and commission of a federal felony while on pretrial release. 

Pretrial release is supposedly an important priority for judicial representatives to consider in order to prevent "harsh and oppressive" deprivation of liberty for individual pending trial, according to the American Bar Association, which must be balanced with the primary goal of ensuring a defendant returns to stand trial while protecting alleged victims or witnesses and the larger community from the threat a defendant may pose.

In Hart's case, the scales tipped too far toward concern for the defendant, and allowed someone who proved himself to be a threat to the community when he again victimized an innocent citizen. At least, for now, Hart is headed to prison, and there's one less carjacker on the streets of Indiana. 

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