Based on comments on social media, apparently many think that Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker gave convicted former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard a lenient sentence, because the ethics statute that Hubbard was convicted of violating carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and Walker only gave Hubbard four. Yr Stranger, happily enough, is a lawyer and can law’splain that Hubbard actually received a harsh sentence under the statute and the sentencing and parole rules under Alabama law.
It is true that the felonies of which Hubbard stands convicted carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Judge Walker could have sentenced Hubbard to the full 20 years. But because of prison overcrowding and because Hubbard is a non-violent offender, he would have been eligible for and almost certainly would have received parole after a mere two years.
But the Alabama sentencing statute gives the court the ability to impose what is known as a “split sentence,” under which the judge may order that the convict serve a definite amount of prison time without possibility of parole and that the rest of the sentence is probation rather than prison time. For a class B felony involving a sentence of 20 years, the most prison time the court can order a convict to serve is five years. That’s what the prosecution wanted Judge Walker to do. Instead, the judge cut that by a year and ordered Hubbard to serve four years without the possibility of parole and to serve the rest of his 20 year sentence on supervised probation.
In other words, the absolute most actual jail time Judge Walker could have sentenced Mike Hubbard to is five years. He gave him 80% of that maximum.
That’s a harsh sentence, and Judge Walker should be praised for not listening to Hubbard’s lawyer and buddies who claimed a “man like Mike” doesn’t belong in prison.
Judge Walker’s sentence is a fair one given the applicable law and Hubbard’s criminal conduct, and is a much harsher sentence than just a straight 20-year sentence that would have had Hubbard out in two.