A Maryland man was convicted last week on a rare criminal charge of attempting suicide.
The Baltimore Sun reported that the 56-year-old man pleaded guilty last week and received a three-year suspended sentence and two years of probation.
The paper reported that the crime appears to stem from English common law dating back to the founding of the U.S. A law professor told the paper that suicide was a crime in England.
Prosecutors told the paper that they do not intend on putting the man in jail, but hope to get him into mental health treatment.
The man was arrested in 2016 after a relative called and said he had been drinking, was suicidal and had a gun. He was charged with attempted suicide, reckless endangerment and endangering his safety and the safety of his brother while intoxicated.
The state’s plea offer was for him to plead guilty to one count, and he chose the attempted suicide charge.
Joe Riley, the Caroline County’s interim top prosecutor, told The Sun that he will not pursue the charge in the future.
David Jaros, a University of Baltimore law professor, told the paper that the case appears to be a “poor use of discretion.”
“I find it hard to believe saddling this guy with a record and probation that could result in jail time is the best way to resolve what is clearly a mental health problem,” he said. “This is a classic example of how the criminal justice system can ultimately create hurdles for a person trying to get the help they need.”
The man’s attorney did not return calls to the paper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report