Gary Morano, a 65 year old Boy Scout volunteer, was arrested Tuesday morning for allegedly possessing 75 images of child pornography. The images are said to depict children between 6 and 10 years of age.
Bond has been set in the amount of $750,000 or $10,000 per count. However, Morano might be eligible for a bond reduction.
My law firm handles bond reduction hearings all the time. When bond is set, a magistrate judge will usually set a standard bond and determine only if probable cause exists to support the arrest.
However, when my firm is hired by people who remain incarcerated due to excessive bonds, we are often times able to present evidence that supports a reduction to a much more affordable amount. In fact, it is very common for bond amounts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be reduced to the tens of thousands of dollars.
In Morano’s case, while the charges are very serious, a bond in the amount of $30,000-$50,000 may be reasonable , depending on the nature of the images.
When a judge is presented with a motion to reduce bond, he or she will want to know if the defendant poses any unique flight risk, is a danger to the community, and how serious the defendant’s case is.
To make this determination, a judge will look at the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, and determine if the defendant has any ties to the community.
According to news reports, Morano was arrested in 1987 for a misdemeanor that was later dropped by prosecutors. I am confidant that this arrest will have little to no bearing on this case.
A judge will also consider what ties, if any, Morano has to the community. The stronger his ties, the lesser a flight risk he will be considered and consequentially, the lower his bond will be. Therefore, if Morano owns any real estate in South Florida, has family members who live locally, or maintains a business or regular employment nearby, a judge will feel more comfortable when lowering bond because Morano he has many reasons to stay in town and not flee justice.
Regardless, the judge’s primary concern will be to protect the public. For this reason, many judges require defendants to wear electronic monitors and remain on house arrest when bond is reduced. While Morano’s judge may allow him to work while on house arrest, a strict curfew would be enforced.
Insofar as the remainder of his case is concerned, Morano is facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison per count or three hundred and seventy-five years total. While no exact prediction can be made, prosecutors normally offer ten years as a plea bargain just to start.
If Morano went to trial and lost, prosecutors would likely ask the judge to sentence him to 25 years in prison.
When it comes to defending Morano’s case, a number of questions must be asked and answered by an experienced defense lawyer. First, how did police investigators learn that Morano had these images on his computer?
Did they make this discovery by conducting an illegal search? Did they illegally snoop into Morano’s computer without a warrant? If so, any evidence obtained by law enforcement, including the explicit images, may be thrown out by a judge, forcing prosecutors to drop the whole case.
If Morano consented to the search, was he already in custody and advised of his rights when police asked him for permission? Or, did police do the search and then ask for consent? Believe it or not, this is a VERY common practice and the timing of consent makes a big difference.
Second, was Morano’s statement to police made while in custody? If so, was he properly advised of his Miranda warnings? If he was not properly advised of his rights, the statement may be thrown out by a judge, creating a big problem for prosecutors.
At the end of the day, Morano will be bested served by hiring a defense lawyer who knows how to scour over every detail of this case and uncover its hidden defenses. Such defenses may make the difference in a case this serious.