By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - Samuel Clyde Woods, 28, of Ragland, pled guilty to a DUI first offense and simple possession charge in magistrate court yesterday, following an arrest Feb. 11.
Woods was taken into custody by Mingo County Deputy M.J. Miller, after the officer initiated a traffic stop on the defendant for reasons of being left of center and allegedly driving over the white line, narrowly missing a fence.
According to the officer, the defendant admitted to ingesting illegal drugs before operating the vehicle.
Woods appeared before Magistrate Dallas Toler with his attorney, Rob Kuenzel, and agreed to plea to the two listed charges. The maximum penalty for both charges is 6 months incarceration, and a sentence was rendered for one year home confinement, and credit for time served (14 days).
Toler stipulated conditions with the home confinement that includes Woods undergoing weekly drug testing, remaining employed and to also reside with his parents for the duration of the year-long sentence.
“If you fail a drug test – you will serve the remainder of the year in the Southwestern Regional Jail,” said Toler. “You’re being given a chance to get your life in order, hold a job and start fresh.
“Don’t throw this chance away.”
Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks commented about the case to the Daily News, and said the sentence was fitting to the charges, and is actually at the top of the possible penalties that could have been instated against Woods.
“Most of the time, in cases that have charges like these, the defendant is given credit for time served and is issued a fine and court cost. I commend Magistrate Toler for choosing the sentence that he did,” said Sparks.
“This shows he is trying to create an environment for Mr. Woods that will allow him to be employed and support himself financially in a responsible manner, but it also keeps him under strict court supervision that will encourage him to change his lifestyle and overcome his problems.
“Mingo County has sentenced more defendants to jail time than any other county in the state, per capita,” said the prosecutor. “Some cases are better served to issue a sentence of home confinement if it’s a non-violent crime, or a first offense, such as the DUI in this case against Woods.”
There are not any two cases that are identical,” said Toler. “The charges may be the same, but the circumstances and situations aren’t going to be. The law tells you what the punishment is that’s assigned to each charge, and then it’s up to the magistrate and prosecutor to make the right decision about conditions associated with it.
“Some cases you may be able to apply minimum sentencing to, and they will work out fine, while others need the maximum punishment allowed by law. We work hand in hand with the prosecutors and also the legal counsel to make the best decisions possible for the victims of the crimes, and also the defendants themselves.
“No one is ever going to be happy with every sentence you hand down, but I hope they understand there are laws in place that we abide by.
“Every crime has a punishment.”