Austin Rivault Act Moves Through Legislature
A Lafayette man is free after only serving 10 months in prison for fatally shooting a 15-year-old Lafayette resident. Seth Fontenot was found guilty in the shooting death of Austin Rivault. Many thought that Fontenot's sentence was too lenient. In fact one member of the State Legislature, Senator Page Cortez has authored a bill that would make such lenient sentences in Louisiana at thing of the past.
Cortez's bill calls for a mandatory three-year sentence if a felony is committed with a gun and that felony results in the death of another person.
We would give the judge the discretion from the 20 year mandatory down to no less than 3 years of imprisonment, it sort of sets a floor for the judge in regards to discretion.
The House Criminal Justice Committee passed the proposed legislation on to the full House by a vote of 7-6. There is opposition to the bill and according to Cortez it's not surprising where that opposition is coming from. Most of it is coming from the criminal defense lawyers. They believe the judge should have discretion in cases such as this.
We’re not going to let them have complete discretion down to zero time served in essence when there are these three elements, a violent felony, a discharge of a firearm, and a fatality.
Cortez told the Louisiana Radio Network that the genesis of this legislation came from Austin Rivault's family. They were interested in using their son's death as a mechanism for change.
Their question to me was is this a good public policy, and if it isn’t lets change the public policy so no other families have to go through a situation like this again.
Meanwhile, Fontenot is a free man after only ten months served. Austin Rivault was 15 at the time of his death at the hands of Fontenot.