A former High School teacher broke down as she was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison for having sex and smoking marijuana with a 15-year-old student last year in Texas.
Michelle Schiffer, 24, started crying after her punishment was announced by Harris County State District Judge Robert Johnson. She was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
“Michelle and her family are disappointed with the outcome thus far, but she accepts responsibility for what she has done,” defense attorney Grant Scheiner said. “Michelle is prepared to serve her sentence and hopes the complainant and his family can forgive her.”
Because Schiffer was convicted of the charge of improper relationship with a child, and not sexual assault, she will not have to register as a sex offender. Scheiner had argued that probation was the appropriate punishment during a hearing before the judge last month.
“She has a scarlet letter that’s going to last the rest of her life,” Scheiner said. “And that is part of the punishment.”
It is unclear when prison officials could release Schiffer on parole. The offense does not require that she serve at least half the prison sentence.
The former Cypress Springs teacher also is eligible for “shock probation,” an unusual mechanism that a judge can use to sentence a person to less than 10 years in prison, then release him or her after six months.
Judges do not disclose when they are going to use shock probation, so the “shock” of the lengthy jail sentence will sink in.
After they are released on probation, they can be sent sent back to prison for bad behavior.
Neither Scheiner nor prosecutor Keaton Forcht would discuss whether shock probation was appropriate.
Schiffer was facing the possibility of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in May to one charge of improper relationship with a student.
During a hearing last month, her friends and family said Schiffer suffers from depression and had stopped taking her medication when she met up with the teen to have sex and smoke marijuana. Prosecutors also said she was texting other students and sending them topless photos.