Drunk driver Samuel Silva hit a Miami-Dade Police cruiser, causing it to go up in flames. The policewoman who was in that cruiser, Marisa Sanders, ended up with burns over 80% of her body as a result of the accident. Silva was convicted of DUI causing serious bodily injury in 2001 and appealed the conviction. In 2004, he was ordered to surrender himself after he lost his appeal but could not be found.
According to the U.S. Marshalls, Silva spent the next ten years on the run, first going to Puerto Rico, where he got a family member’s passport, and then jumping around Spain, South America and Central America before he was eventually tracked down in Panama. When the Marshalls tried to deport Silva back to Miami, he was combative and could not be brought back to the U.S. on a commercial airliner. As a result, they had to rent a private plane to bring him back to Florida.
Silva will be serving 9 ½ years in the Florida prison system for the DUI charge he was convicted of back in 2001. Additionally, he is now facing federal charges for fleeing when he was ordered to report to serve his sentence, meaning that he could be facing another 5 years in the federal prison system just for running.
Called “Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution”, the federal law that Silva is now facing charges on gives the federal government the power to intervene when someone disappears in a case like this, where they are going to prison and leave the country or state to escape serving their sentence. The law is not only for people who flee after being prosecuted, but also for people who flee when they are facing charges but has not been convicted yet or even fleeing in order to avoid giving testimony or providing evidence in some cases. The sentence for fleeing the country under federal law is a maximum of 5 years in federal prison.
It should be noted that if Silva had just served his sentence when he was ordered to show up to jail, he would be done serving his prison term by now and would be free, possibly on parole. Now he has the possibility of a sentence that is 50% longer because he chose to leave instead of turning himself in when ordered to do so.
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