Constitutional protections premised on the idea that it’s better for 10 guilty men to go free than one innocent man to be imprisoned mean that Aaron Hernandez could be acquitted of murdering Odin Lloyd., if his high-priced defense lawyers can conjure “reasonable doubt” in the minds of the jurors.
In this specific case, prosecutors have another way to put Hernandez behind bars, even if a jury get Chewbacca defensed into a verdict of not guilty on the murder charge.
As explained by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the weapons charges against Hernandez carry a maximum sentence of 10 years for each of two counts of carrying a “large capacity firearm”; five years for one count of carrying a firearm without a license; two years for possession of a firearm without a Firearm Identification Card; and two years for possession of ammunition without a Firearm Identification Card.
Typically, state-court judges have broad discretion when determining sentences for criminal convictions, and if the judge presiding over the Hernandez trial believes that Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd (even if Hernandez is acquitted), the judge could try to stack a lengthy sentence via maximum penalties and consecutive terms.
At some point, it’ll be useful to take a look at Massachusetts law to see what Hernandez’s absolute maximum prison term could be on the weapons charges. If his lawyers pull off an if-it-doesn’t-fit-you-must-acquit miracle as to the murder of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez could still be kept out of free society for a long time.