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Legal Experts: Casey Anthony Will Be Released From Jail

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CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL
Casey Anthony smiles after being acquitted of murder charges on July 5, 2011. (Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel) | Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO Fla. -- Casey Anthony is still behind bars, but by Thursday afternoon she may enjoy her first day of freedom in almost three years.

According to legal experts with whom The Huffington Post spoke, there is little doubt that will happen.

"The judge has limited options," said Mark NeJame, the veteran attorney and legal analyst who once represented Anthony's parents.

"He's looking at four misdemeanors, which he could stack or run concurrent, but she's already served most of the time," NeJame continued. "The reality of it is that it is very likely he will say the jury has spoken and you've done a lot more time than most people do on these charges."


On Tuesday, Anthony, 25, was found not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. She was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. However, she was convicted on four charges of misleading law enforcement.

Famed Seattle attorney Anne Bremner, a regular legal analyst for several national media outlets, agrees with NeJame.

"There are four misdemeanors and each has a max sentence of one year in jail," Bremner said. "My belief is that she will be given one year on all four, credited for what she has already served and released tomorrow."

Anthony will learn her fate Thursday morning when she goes before Judge Belvin Perry for sentencing. Regardless of the outcome, Anthony's acquittal has ensured that she can never again be tried for her daughter's murder because of the double jeopardy clause in the U.S. Constitution. Prosecutors are also unable to appeal her acquittal.

There has been some speculation online that she could be tried in federal court for violating the civil rights of her child, but Bremner said that is not possible.

"You can only violate someone's civil rights if you're acting on behalf of the government," Bremner explained. "The violation would have to have been committed by law enforcement, the state or some other government agency."

And what of Anthony's future? According to NeJame, she can earn as much money as she wants to by selling her story.

"Can she profit? Absolutely," NeJame said. "There is no legal prohibition against her profiting."

Anthony's legal problems, however, are far from over, the veteran lawyer explained.

"She was served today with a subpoena for a civil suit filed by Zenaida Gonzalez and has to appear for a deposition in two weeks," NeJame said.

When police questioned Casey Anthony about her daughter's disappearance in July 2008, she blamed a woman name Zenaida Gonzalez for taking Caylee. The woman suing Anthony shares the same name as the made-up nanny.

NeJame said one of his regular clients, Tim Miller, founder and director of Texas EquuSearch, the missing person search and recovery group that looked for Caylee in 2008, is also thinking about filing a lawsuit.

"Miller is considering suing her for the $114,000 Texas EquuSearch lost when the volunteers came out," NeJame said. "I had to pass on that," he added. "Having represented [the Anthonys], I was not going to get [involved]. Tim has a Houston attorney [who can deal with it."

Tim Miller did not immediately return calls for comment from The Huffington Post.

The Orange County Corrections Department released a statement earlier Wednesday, saying it is their agency's policy to "release a jury-acquitted inmate from the courthouse under normal circumstances. However, due to the high profile nature of this case and intense, emotional interest by the public, appropriate measures will be taken to release the acquitted into the community in such a manner so as to preserve the safety of the acquitted individual and the public."

Casey Anthony and her family have already received death threats, so extra security measures are being put in place for her release, NeJame said.

"They are going to take her and process her out of the jail and then have a car in a secure garage so you won't know which vehicle leaving is her," he said. "Is it special treatment? No. I think it is preferential treatment but appropriate. Her safety needs to be safeguarded as well as public."

There is also a possibility that Anthony might not even be at the courthouse Thursday morning, Bremner said.

"Remember Mary Kay Letourneau?" she asked.

Letourneau was a 30-something elementary school teacher from Seattle who, in the mid-1990s, was convicted of having sex with a sixth-grade pupil. Sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, she was released in August 2004. In an effort to avoid a possible mob scene, authorities released Letourneau around 1:30 a.m.

"That's an interesting angle," NeJame said, referring to Bremner's comment. "This judge is not afraid to work nights, weekends and holidays. The fact of that matter is that as despised as she is by so many, I think it would be appropriate for law enforcement to extend those considerations so mob mentality does not take over."

It remains unclear where Anthony will go once she leaves state custody. Her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, have declined multiple requests for comment. Instead, they released the following statement through their attorney, Mark Lippman:

"While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life," the statement read. "They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives. ...The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately."

A source close to the family told The Huffington Post Wednesday afternoon that the Anthonys have arranged for Casey to stay with an aunt in Texas.

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