Thursday, September 23, 2004

ok .. the legal stuff promised

Here is the legal scoop.

Early August, while stopping a kid(21) up the street from hitting him, Chris and said kid stumbled into a police car. Both were arrested for Disorderly Conduct. Raymond (the other kid) plead guilty and paid a $50 fine. Chris plead not guilty and was given a new court date (after we posted $100 bond). The second court date, Chris was offered a chance to plead guilty, which he refused, and was held over again. This time he was instructed to get a lawyer. He did, from legal aid. Hearing number 3 was 2 weeks ago, where they held it over to give him time to talk to his attorney. Today was hearing number 4.
After dismissing several DC charges, the Judge ordered Chris over for jury trial. She instructed him that he had to get a lawyer, and his fee went from $100 to $500 for legal aid. The $500 fee has to be paid before the court date. If he doesn't pay the legal fee, he will be put in jail.
Here it is. Chris is 18. He has no record. This is a first offense, of which he has several witnesses to back up his claim that he was merely defending himself. His court apponted attorney suggested that they are trying to make it easier for him to just plead to the charge, pay the fine, and leave. That is all well and good, except, he is not guilty of the crime. When did it become a crime to defend oneself? If I am threatened by an armed burglar in my home, I can shoot him dead, and get off with self defense. I guess if he isn't armed and is just trying to strong arm me on the street, I have no legal recourse.
Is the crime of which Chris is guilty, just being poor? Is it the intent of the court system to penalize him because he cannot afford an attorney? I thought these were our basic rights. I thought we had the right to defend ourselves. I was unaware that the court can make me hire an attorney for money I do not have and penalize me if I can't pay. Because it is a court ordered payment, if it is not paid before the court date, he will be jailed for contempt.
Sign me
'disgusted with the court system today'.

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