(NationalUSNews.com) — The 26-year-old nursing student accused of faking her kidnapping, Carlee Russell, has been found guilty of kidnapping fraud following a controversial case that made national headlines. Russell was convicted of faking the kidnapping incident and filing a false police report, and she will likely spend a year or longer in jail based on a judge’s recommendation.
According to Russell’s defense attorneys, the young student plans to appeal the judge’s verdict and seek a more lenient punishment due to her status as a first-time offender. Russell’s attorney also claims the entire ordeal is causing Russell immense mental distress, and the ongoing legal battle is very difficult for the aspiring nurse. Despite these claims, Russell will likely spend time in jail for the various crimes and could receive a harsher sentence if an appeal doesn’t go her way.
The events surrounding Russell’s faked kidnapping remain a mystery, but authorities are confident it transpired on July 13 earlier this year. According to police, Russell called the authorities to report seeing a toddler walking alongside the highway. Russell claimed to have stopped her car to aid the lost child. Once authorities arrived at the region described by Russell, all they found was her abandoned car. The police then began a search for Russell and the toddler, presuming the two were kidnapping victims.
Authorities found Russell safely in her home just two days after the initial disappearance and began questioning her about the events surrounding her strange disappearance. Russell then admitted to never seeing a toddler and confirmed she wasn’t kidnapped following the phone call. Russell’s whereabouts during the 49 hours remain unknown, as do her motives for making the fictitious call. Authorities announced the two misdemeanor charges against Russell on July 28, prompting the legal battle against the young nursing student.
Russell’s sentence also requires the young woman to pay restitution, a verdict her attorneys claim isn’t appropriate for the offenses. Russell’s attorneys aim for a jury trial in the appellate court and will likely receive a jury trial if an appeal is granted. However, Russell’s appeal’s status remains to be determined, as appellate courts usually deny cases involving fictitious police reports. Even if Russell’s attorneys successfully receive an appeal, Russell’s confession to the crime will likely convince a jury of her guilt. Despite Russell’s uphill battle, her legal team remains confident that a jury will grant a more lenient punishment upon an appeal.
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