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Mars Heiress, 74, Fined $2,500 for Fatal Crash

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on December 06, 2013 10:40 AM

Just like we predicted, Mars heiress Jacqueline Badger Mars, 74, will be facing light penalties for the fatal crash she caused that killed an 86-year-old woman and caused a pregnant passenger's miscarriage.

A Virginia judge ordered Mars, one of the world's richest women, to pay a $2,500 fine and suspended her driver's license for six months.

How did the candy heiress get such a sweet sentence?

No Jail Time

General District Judge Deborah Welsh, who called the crash "horrible," could have sentenced Mars to up to a year in jail on the misdemeanor charge, reports the Associated Press.

When it comes to infractions and minor misdemeanors, or when a defendant has pled guilty, judges typically impose sentences immediately after convictions without consulting others.

Nevertheless, judges may take into account input from the prosecutor, the defense, and the probation department. In this case, the victim's relatives may have played a role in Judge Welsh's sentence.

The victim's relatives asked the judge not to incarcerate Mars, saying they have forgiven the 74-year-old heiress. More importantly, prosecutors did not even seek jail time. Instead, they left the decision to the judge's discretion and asked the judge to take the family's wishes into account, reports The AP.

Additional Factors Considered

In addition to statutory sentencing ranges, sentencing judges also consider case-specific factors, including:

  • The defendant's criminal history, or lack thereof;
  • The nature of the crime, the manner in which it was committed, and the impact on victims (i.e., whether injuries resulted);
  • The defendant's personal, economic, and social circumstances; and
  • Regret or remorse expressed by the defendant.

Though the death of the elderly victim was caused by Mars' drowsy driving, the judge likely took into account the fact that the victim was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

It also probably didn't hurt that Mars has a clean record and, well, is a high-profile heiress who is one of the richest people in the entire world.

As for remorse, Mars "apologized for the crash and said she will live with grief for the rest of her life," reports the AP.

Other convicted fatigued drivers probably wish they could be so fortunate.

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