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Josh Brent Sentenced to 10 Years Probation, 6 Months in Jail

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

A Texas jury has sentenced ex-NFL player Josh Brent to 10 years of probation, 180 days in jail, and a $10,000 fine for a drunken-driving crash that killed his teammate and friend Jerry Brown.

Brent, formerly with the Dallas Cowboys, was convicted this week of involuntary manslaughter for causing the fatal crash in December 2012. Brent was driving at least 110 mph and had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 percent -- more than twice the legal limit in Texas, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Brent could have faced up to 20 years in prison for his conviction. What factors may have played into Brent's sentence?

Sentencing in Texas

Under the Texas Criminal Code, there are two phases for criminal proceedings in the state: a trial phase and a sentencing phase.

For Texas felony cases like Josh Brent's, a defendant can choose to have either the judge or the jury determine his sentence. If a defendant opts for sentencing by jury, then he must make that election in writing before the jury is chosen, according to the state's code.

Before the sentencing hearing, the court typically gets input from the prosecutor, the defendant's lawyer, and even the local probation department about what they believe would be an appropriate sentence. Generally speaking, courts can consider a wide range of factors in sentencing, such as:

  • The defendant's criminal history;
  • The defendant's personal, economic, and social circumstances; and
  • The defendant's regret or remorse.

Jurors Deliberate Over 2 Days

Jurors in Josh Brent's sentencing phase deliberated over two days before deciding on a combination of probation, jail time, and fines.

Considering this isn't Brent's first conviction for drunken driving -- he was previously sentenced to two years' probation and 60 days in jail after an impaired driving conviction, according to ESPN -- his sentence is arguably lenient.

However, what may have worked in Brent's favor was his immense regret for his actions. Jerry Brown was one of Brent's close friends; after the accident, Brent stated that he was "devastated and filled with grief" and that he "will live with this horrific and tragic loss" for the rest of his life.

Let's hope this tragedy will indeed deter Josh Brent and other sports stars from drinking and driving. The judge in Brent's case even offered some parting words to the ex-NFL player after his sentencing: "You are not the first Dallas Cowboy to kill someone with a vehicle," the judge said, according to the Dallas Morning News, "but I hope you are the last."

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