Defendant saved by the grace of a Taylor County Prosecuting Attorney

TAYLOR COUNTY—After pleading guilty to fraudulent schemes, a defendant was back in court to learn his fate during a sentencing hearing.

Jacob R. Sparks, 24, was back in Taylor County Circuit Court for a sentencing hearing last week, and had he not gained the support from a Taylor County Prosecutor, his fate would have been far worse.

During a hearing last month, Sparks agreed to plead guilty to fraudulent schemes, which carries a potential sentence of not less than one nor more than ten years in prison, or at the court’s discretion one year in a regional jail and a fine of $2,500.

As part of the agreement, Spark’s defense council, Jason Gain, would make a motion to enter a deferred statute to suspend the felony for such time that it would become a misdemeanor.

During the hearing, Taylor County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Miller voiced that he would oppose the deferment but would recommend that Sparks sentence be held in abeyance and he be placed on the Taylor County Community Corrections Program.

While in court last week, 19th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats heard from both sides of the table, and when it came time for sentencing, he based his decision on the information he received from the prosecutor.

“Mr. Sparks has taken responsibility for his actions, and we would like to note that he has already paid the full restitution to Spencer’s Market, in the matter,” said Defense Council Jason Gain.

He told the court that Sparks had changed his life around and was ready to be on the straight and narrow.

“He has been attending the Bob Mays Recovery Center for three months, and he has actually completed the program as of today,” Gain told. “He is a young man and a felony conviction would be detrimental moving forward.”

Sparks admitted to the judge that he had faced an addiction to methamphetamine for four years but had gotten the help he needed to beat it.

Noting that Sparks had already done what was asked of him, Miller reported that he was satisfied to hear that the restitution had already been made.

“I really wanted Spencer’s Market to be made whole, because they were the ones who were the victim here,” Miller voiced

He said that in talking to the owner of the store, he learned that she had previously had the mindset that anyone stealing because of or dealing with drugs should go to jail, no questions asked.

“She revealed that through Sparks’ actions, her opinion had been changed,” Miller explained. “She shared that she now believes that he is young, and he is really trying, so he should have a chance.”

He expressed to Judge Moats that because of her, he was now willing to join in on the deferred status motion.

“Mr. Sparks, I have to tell you that I came in here today ready to send you to prison. Had Mr. Miller not agreed with the motion to defer, you would be going to prison,” Moats revealed. “That’s why I backed him into a corner, to make him make a decision on way or the other.”

He agreed to the deferred adjudication, meaning that he would give Sparks time to successfully complete the community corrections program, in exchange for the circumvention of a felony conviction on his record.

“You owe your victim and Mr. Miller an apology and a thank you,” Moats voiced to Sparks. “You must successfully complete the program for the deferment to occur, and however long it takes you to complete, that’s how long I will wait to make a formal ruling.”

He noted that if Sparks failed to comply with the provisions of the program, the offer would be removed from the agreement.

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