Lack of Remorse Justifies Harsher Sentence
(CN) - The 11th Circuit affirmed a modified, stricter probation sentence for a college student who threatened to shoot President Obama on Facebook, then told his college newspaper that he found the incident "pretty funny."
"Like others before him, Joaquin Serrapio, Jr. learned the hard way that whatever one says to a reporter may later appear in print," the 21-page opinion begins.
In 2012, Serrapio made two posts on Facebook threatening to shoot President Obama during the president's visit to the University of Miami.
One of the posts said, "If anybody is going to UM ... to see Obama today, get your phones out and record because at any moment, I'm going to put a bullet through his head and you don't want to miss that. Youtube."
He was sentenced to three years probation, including four months of home confinement, and 250 hours of community service.
A few months later, an article by Karla Barrios published in Miami-Dade College's newspaper quoted Serrapio as saying that the ordeal was "pretty funny to me and my friends," and that "lot of good has come out of this, even for my music. The same week I got out of jail, which was February 27, I had a show that Saturday and a lot of people showed up to see the kid who threatened to kill the president."
The same day, the newspaper published a remorseful article by Serrapio titled "The Biggest Mistake of My Life," stating that the Secret Service's response to his sarcastic comments had led him on a "difficult journey," and warning others that "posts are available for the world to see and your words and/or your pictures will follow you for the rest of your life."
Upon learning of Serrapio's comments to Barrios, the sentencing judge modified the conditions of his probation to include 45 days in a halfway house and one year of home confinement. It allowed him to continue attending school, and placed him on a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The 11th Circuit rejected Serrapio's challenge to the modified sentence.
"As to the 45-day halfway house term, we hold that the appeal is moot. Mr. Serrapio finished serving that term some time ago, and it is 'impossible for [us] to grant [him] any effectual relief,'" Judge Adalberto Jordan wrote for the three-judge panel.
The modification of his probation did not violate the double jeopardy clause.
"The district court here did not increase the three-year probationary term it had initially imposed on Mr. Serrapio; it modified the conditions of probation within that term by increasing, from four months to one year, the period of home confinement with electronic monitoring," Jordan wrote.
"Although this modification undoubtedly constituted an additional restriction on Mr. Serrapio's liberty, it did not violate the double jeopardy clause because it did not upset any legitimate expectations held by Mr. Serrapio as to the finality of the conditions of probation, as it was authorized by statute and was based on Mr. Serrapio's post-sentencing conduct."
The ruling was published Wednesday.