"Should've Been A Cowboy"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My First Time In Court

monday was the first time i've ever been to court. i was scheduled to be in court at 9am. i showed up 20 minutes early, but to my surprise there was a line outside of the courtroom. i was the 11th person in line and shortly after i arrived the line grew another 8 to 10 behind me. around 9am an officer opened a door to the court room and proceeded to announce the rules for entering the courtroom. after he announced the rules i had to step out of line and go back to my car. my key chain swiss army tool comes in handy quite often, but at times it can be an inconvenience, as it was that day.

upon re-entering the building the folks that were behind me in line were kind enough to let me reclaim my place in line. one at a time we placed our belongings into a basket and proceeded through the metal detector. i put my wallet, keys, memory stick, and belt buckle in the basket. still i set off the metal detector. i took off my belt, patted my pockets, and walked through it again. once more i set of the alarm. the officer wasn't having any of this so he made me spread my legs and arms and waved his wand around me a couple of times. then in a puzzled tone he told me that he didn't know why the machine didn't like me and gave me my belongings and an orange sheet of paper that had been laminated. i walked into the courtroom, checked in with the clerk, and sat down in a chair on the front row of chairs that the audience of a trial would sit in.

after 10 minutes or so the bailiff told us to rise and announced the entrance of the judge. the judge proceeded to tell us to silence all electrical devices, and informed us that if he heard one go off in the courtroom he would find the owner of the device in contempt of court and fine them $100. next he dictated our options in regards to our traffic tickets. the first option was to plead no contest, pay $103 for court cost, and take defensive driving. after the completion of the course the violation would be removed from our record. option two was deferred adjudication. this meant we could plead no contest, pay the full amount of our fine, and if we made it 180 days without another traffic violation our current violation would be removed from our record. the third and final option was to choose to plead not guilty and either have a trial by judge or jury at a later date.

after our options were given to us, we were called one at a time to either speak with the prosecutor and then the judge, or only the judge. if the judge felt that the case was simple and could be handled quickly he would call the defendant straight to the bench, but if he felt a need for the defendant to speak with the prosecutor prior to speaking with him the prosecutor would call the defendants name to her desk. after twenty minutes or so i was called to the prosecutor’s desk. she stated some facts about the case and i confirmed them. then she told me how she interpreted the evidence in her file and gave me the option of to pay my initial fine of $268 and go through deferred adjudication. i didn't like this option. i wanted to take the defensive driving option, but because my ticket had turned into a warrant i didn't qualify for this. i disputed her evidence with evidence of my own, and after a short disagreement she told me that i could speak with the judge. i walked back to me seat and waited only a couple of minutes before the judge called me to the bench.

upon approaching the bench the judge asked me what i wanted to do. i told him that i want to take the defensive driving option. he restated the facts that the prosecutor presented to me and then i presented my case. my case was that i never received my ticket in the mail or the letter letting me know that i missed my initial court date because my address on the ticket was wrong. it was a composition of my new and old address. while presenting my case the prosecutor walked up to the bench and stated that i had changed my address after the ticket was issued and i quickly, but politely, corrected her by showing proof that i had changed my address prior to the accident and the state had issued an new ID for me twelve days before my ticket was issued. the judge looked at my evidence and he was as confused as i as to how my address was only halfway incorrect on my ticket. with my address being updated prior to the accident the officer should have been given the correct address by dispatch even if the ID i presented wasn't my the new one with the updated address. after a few moments the judge told me that i could take the defensive driving course and pay $103 to the court, and in two weeks my $343 bond would be sent back to me in the mail. this was a good thing for me because $103 court cost + $12 copy of my driving record + $30 defensive driving course comes to a total of $145, and that is $198 less than my ticket + late fees and $123 less than the ticket alone.


At 10/10/2007 6:08 PM, Blogger JASClark said...

interesting blog post


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