Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back in court

Sorry for the absence--I had training and then took some leave.

But I'm back and I had court today. It was a four-year-old case where the defendant had failed to appear and just been coasting around until our warrant squad picked him up.
Actually they’d stopped by his mother’s house looking for him, and though he wasn’t there, he got spooked and turned himself in.

As I recalled the arrest, I’d been sitting alongside a road, minding my own business, when I saw a car go by at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of the moderately heavy traffic. I went after it, and because it had a broken tail light, it was easy to track it among all of the other cars. As I stopped it, I noticed that there were no brake lights, either. The car was also missing a side mirror and had a cracked windshield—basically it was a rolling piece of junk.

Of course the driver had a nice stereo installed, one that was worth about twice what the rest of the car was, but that’s really not all that unusual in this area. Also not unusual for this area: His license to drive was suspended.

So I hooked the guy up and called for a tow truck. Shortly, a flat-bed truck showed up, and the driver dropped the rear ramp then started up the defendant’s car and drove it up onto the ramp.

Next thing I knew, the car was rolling back off the ramp right at my cruiser as the tow truck driver tried to stop it without success.

“I forgot to tell you, man,” the prisoner said just before his car impacted the front of my cruiser, smashing in a corner of the bumper and the headlight bucket, “that car ain’t got no brakes!”

Turned out knucklehead had been stopping it with the emergency brake alone for the past two to three weeks. (This explained the absence of brake lights.)

So now I had an arrest, an impound, and a “damage to government property—official vehicle” report to do. The latter did not make me a happy guy.

The pin-head bonded out and never appeared in court. A warrant was put in the system, but since he didn’t have enough money to pay his fines, get his license reinstated, and pay for impound fees, insurance and repairs on his car, he just lost the car to the auction block and got a bike. Since he wasn’t driving, he never got stopped by the police and that meant that he never got picked up on the warrant.

Well today he was back in court. He was offered a plea deal where everything would be dropped other than charges of operating an unsafe vehicle, operating after suspension, and failure to appear in court. That meant that all of my equipment cites got tossed along with operating uninsured and the Reckless Driving that I’d hit him with. I’d really wanted to see him get hit with the Reckless, but this particular prosecutor plea-bargains everything down to crazy levels. I was still grumbling as the case was called and the judge gave him a fine for the Unsafe Vehicle charge and probation for the Operating After Suspension hit. But then the judge told him that his probation would begin right after his thirty day sentence for failure to appear was served. Based on the look that I got from the bench, I think the judge heard my whispered “YES!!” But that’s ok, because the world is a just place after all.


Moe said...

At least the Judge threw you a bone even if it was a little one.

Anonymous said...

This happens all the time to me. Just last week I had a good drug sales case. Where bad guy admitted to being a runner for the dealer.

He got probation and everything else dropped.