When I last wrote about MTV’s Vincent Margera, aka “Don Vito,” he’d just been convicted of groping two girls at an autograph signing event, collapsed in the courtroom and placed on a suicide watch at the Jefferson County Jail. He’s been in jail for six or seven weeks, pending sentencing. Yesterday, Judge MJ Menendez sentenced him to ten years probation and ordered him not to appear on television and to give up his Don Vito character. I think it’s the best possible sentence under Colorado’s sentencing laws. But I also think our laws are too rigid resulting in one-size-fits-all justice which often is not justice at all. For example, the Judge had no choice but to order Margera to register as a sex offender for life. She wasn’t allowed to impose a lesser term of probation. Probation is no walk in the park.
His probation, which will be more tightly supervised than usual, includes: registration as a sex offender; sex-offender-specific treatment; compliance with a list of 30 conditions such as computer use and being around children as requested by probation officers; substance-abuse counseling; and mental-health evaluation and treatment.
Should Margera get convicted of any other crime, even shoplifting or a D.U.I., or fail to comply with all the non-crime related conditions of probation, his probation could be revoked and he could be re-sentenced to a long prison term — possibly even life. We need for our judges to have discretion in sentencing. Judge Menendez deserves praise for resisting the sex offender hysteria that has gripped the nation in recent years and sentencing Margera to the minimum possible sentence. But, does a spontaneous groping at a public event warrant lifetime registration as a sex offender? I don’t think so.