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Casey Anthony loses appeal on probation

/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

A Florida appeals court on Tuesday denied a request that would have stopped Casey Anthony from being forced to start a one-year probation sentence for check fraud by the end of the week.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals disagreed with Anthony's argument that enforcing the probation order would violate the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy. Anthony maintains she already had completed the probation sentence in jail while she was awaiting trial on murder charges in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. The ruling upheld a lower court's order requiring Anthony to report to a Florida probation office no later than noon Friday.

"The petitioner and her attorneys were well aware that her probationary placement was not to begin until her release from confinement," the appellate court said.

A Florida jury last month acquitted Casey Anthony of murder in the death of Caylee, in a case unrelated to the check fraud. After her release, the 25-year-old vanished from public view amid threats against her and she has since kept a low profile. However, her attorney says she is back in Florida.

The probation order stems from a sentence Circuit Judge Stan Strickland imposed in January 2010 after Anthony pleaded guilty to stealing checks from a friend. At the time, Strickland said Anthony should serve the probation upon her release, but those instructions never made it into a written order. Corrections officials interpreted the sentence to mean Anthony could serve the probation while she was in jail.

In an order this month, Strickland clarified that Anthony must begin her probation now that she is out of jail. He then recused himself from the case and turned it over to Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over Anthony's murder trial. Perry upheld Strickland's order, and Anthony's attorneys appealed last week to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Daytona Beach.

Anthony's attorneys did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. But in a court filing Tuesday, they described the probation order as an "illegal sentence."

The Florida Department of Corrections has determined that Anthony had already served the probation sentence and that Strickland didn't have jurisdiction to clarify the order because the probation sentence was terminated, they said.

Speaking Sunday on Fox News' "Geraldo at Large," Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, said Anthony was in Florida and would report to a probation office to start probation if the appeal failed.

"We are going to follow the law wherever the courts follow the law and I am certain she will do what's asked of her if necessary and hopefully it won't come to that," Baez said.

Anthony had been in Ohio, Baez said, receiving therapy and spiritual guidance.

He would not specify where because of threats made against Anthony, but added: "She has been with close friends of ours that ... are somewhat spiritual advisors, people who care and are trying to help her get on with her life."

Baez said he didn't think Anthony had followed the media coverage or public outrage against her since her acquittal.

"I don't think she's concentrating all that much on" it, he said. "The coverage is important to some people who have decided to make this their entertainment. It's not entertainment for her — it's her life. And that's why I don't think she's paid that much attention to the coverage of her case."

"It's time for everyone to move on and let everyone who is involved in this case move on and live their life," Baez added.