Fla. AG: Casey Anthony should serve probation
ORLANDO, Fla. – Casey Anthony should be forced to serve probation for check fraud because it was impossible to enforce the sentence when she was jailed while awaiting trial on charges of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Florida's attorney general said Monday.
A court filing from Attorney General Pam Bondi's office opposes efforts by Anthony's attorneys — who say the woman is now back in Florida — to prevent her from serving the probation sentence. Last week, Anthony's attorneys filed an appeal in state court arguing she had already served the probation sentence while she was jailed on the murder charge.
Anthony was acquitted last month of murdering her daughter, Caylee, in a case unrelated to the check fraud, and she was released from the Orange County Jail. Since then, she has kept a low profile, and her exact whereabouts have been secret.
"Legally, it is clear that a defendant cannot serve probation while incarcerated," the attorney general said in the filing.
Circuit Judge Stan Strickland sentenced Anthony to a year of probation in January 2010 after she pleaded guilty to stealing checks from a friend. At the time, Strickland said Anthony should serve the probation upon her release, but those instructions never made it into a written order. Corrections officials interpreted the sentence to mean Anthony could serve the probation while she was in jail.
Strickland clarified in an order earlier this month that Anthony must begin her probation now that she is out of jail. He then recused himself from the case and turned it over to Judge Belvin Perry, who had presided over Anthony's murder trial. Perry upheld Strickland's order, which Anthony's attorneys appealed last week to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Daytona Beach.
If the order is upheld, Anthony has until noon Friday to report to the probation office.
A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Monday that there is a possibility Anthony could report to a probation office outside Orlando. Speaking in general terms, spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said if a probationer who was sentenced in Orlando has established a residence in another part of Florida, the probationer could report to the probation office in that part of the state.
Plessinger, however, said the agency will not disclose when or where Anthony will report to probation, as a safety precaution. Because Anthony has received death threats, Perry said in his order that the department could keep private any probation information that generally is a public record in other cases.
Anthony is back in Florida and will report to a probation office if the appeal fails, her attorney, Jose Baez, said during an interview Sunday night on Fox News' "Geraldo At Large."
"We are going to follow the law wherever the courts follow the law and I am certain she will do what's asked of her if necessary, and hopefully it won't come to that," Baez said.
The attorney said Anthony had spoken with her parents, George and Cindy, but had not talked with her brother, Lee. Anthony is undergoing therapy and counseling and is "trying to get a grasp of what happened to her," Baez said.
Anthony's legal team is concerned about her safety, given that she has received threats, and she is in a safe location, said Baez, although he wouldn't say where in Florida she was.
"This is someone who has a lot of figuring out of what is left of her life," Baez said.