Court: LaFave must go back on probation - FOX 13 News

Court: LaFave must go back on probation

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

She's the ex-teacher dubbed too pretty for prison.

Debra Lafave faced 15 years for molesting a 14-year-old student.

She walked away with three years house arrest and seven years probation in 2005. As part of the plea deal, she agreed to serve the entire 10-year sentence with no early outs.

She became a free woman last year. The judge in the case allowed her to end probation four years early.

Prosecutors say she not only got the better end of the plea deal, but that she then didn't live up to her end of the bargain.

On Wednesday, the Second District Court of Appeals agreed.

"This opinion is more important than just this case because this opinion goes to the criminal justice system as a whole, and the effect plea negotiations have and whether they should be respected and honored by the court," said Mike Sinacore of the state attorney's office.

In its opinion, the appellate court called the judge's decision to end probation early "an abuse of judicial power" and "a gross miscarriage of justice."

They quashed the lower court's decision, re-instating Lafave's probation, meaning she picks up where she left off with four more years left to serve.

"Those are very fundamental points not just for this case but for how we do business from this day forward." Sinacore said.

Lafave has 15 days to ask the court to reconsider.

Her attorney, John Fitzgibbons, released a statement saying: "This case is not over. The Court of Appeals in this major decision reinstated Debbie's probation but then took the extraordinary step of certifying the legal issue to be of great public importance, which gives the Florida Supreme Court the ability, if it wants, to hear Debbie's case. I will be meeting with Debbie and her family in the next few days to determine how we will be proceeding."

In the meantime, prosecutors say the court's decision reaffirms the state's ability to negotiate no early termination of probation and the court's obligation to honor such agreements in the future.

"This brings clarity to the issue. If you make an agreement, a deal is a deal. The court will enforce that deal. It's required to enforce that deal," Sinacore said.

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