blank'/> Liberally Lean From The Land Of Dairy Queen: Municipal / JP Courts Drive Me Crazy

12.09.2008

Municipal / JP Courts Drive Me Crazy

I think people get screwed in municipal and JP courts all the time. And I'm not picking on Wise County courts, it's the same everywhere. Why we put up with it is beyond me. Take this guy. He gets a ticket for possession of drug parapharnalia. This is the way the system is supposed to work: He could demand a trial before a judge or a jury and require the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the item was in fact drug paraphernalia, and (2) that he intentionally and knowingly possessed it (that is, he exercised care, custody and control over it.) Now, let's say he is found guilty. Then it's time for the punishment phase of the trial. The fine can be anywhere between $0 and $500. That's important. It can be ANY AMOUNT within that range. Things for the judge or the jury to consider would be the defendant's age, his criminal history, and the type of paraphernalia (was it rolling papers or was it a bong the size of a Louisville slugger?) But for some reason, in Texas the judge sends out a notice which in essence says, "I have no idea what the facts of the case are because I'm prohibited by law from knowing the facts before a trial begins, but I'm going to assume you are guilty and let you pay a fine of $508 fine." (I guess court costs are included in there to get over the maximum amount of $500.) In the perfect world, the letter would come from a prosecutor who says he has reviewed the case and is offering a plea bargain of $508. But it would also tell the the defendant has every right to reject the plea offer and demand a trial. This letter is even further complicated because the Defendant missed his first court date. The only repercussion of that act is the creation of a new charge of Failure to Appear ---- he cannot be "automatically" found guilty on the paraphernalia charge by default. This ain't civil court -- he still has the right to a trial. But this letter instead says that if he doesn't pay the $508 (on the paraphernalia charge that he has not been found guilty of) then he will be arrested on a violation of Promise to Appear and fined $377 extra dollars (which doesn't make sense because he is entitled to a different trial on whether he failed to appear for a court date of which he had legal notice and, if found guilty, have a judge a or jury assess a fine between $0 and $500.)

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is called the "sorry about your bad luck" law.lol

Anonymous said...

The fine is basically a cash bond, the defendant can still request a trial, correct?

Barry Green said...

No. If he sent the money in for the charge the case is over, he is convicted, and he has paid a fine.

Anonymous said...

Judgement Nisi and 8 days in RWB Jail, oops they use the county jail and taxes from the county pays for that. Thanks 4 being there for all of us, Barry we need u in our lives, thanks again.

Anonymous said...

In before some schmuck posts "Well, he shouldn't have been using drugs!!!11 hurrr"

Double Fake Judge Judy said...

Straight Up.

Seems to me this individual would not have received a threatening warrant letter in the first place if they would have done either of the below.

1) Hired you the minute they got the ticket so that you could have handled the whole mess (trial, etc.) in the beginning or, 2) made an effort to show up for the original court date, begged for mercy and asked for a trial, alone. Am I right?

Anonymous said...

Call Obama, he can figure it out!
Bank Czars, Car Czars, Drug Czars, Credit Czars, Housing Czars, Holy Crap, we're heading towards nationalizing everything. Hell, let's just go ahead and make some dope legal and put the Government in charge. Has anyone noticed the size of Nancy Pelosi's check book? Cause she's handing out money like it's her's. If you think the Federal Government has gotten out of hand jusy hang on, they'll be owning our ass in four years. Not to offend Barry but I could care less about some schlumps drug paraphernalia charge. The real problem is exactly what you mentioned about the way in which it was handled. The whole damn Government operates that way and this Country better wake up or we are all going to get screwed by the powers that be. I think I'll go throw-up now.

Anonymous said...

Just say "NO" to drugs and sleazy lawyers. Just sayin.

Anonymous said...

Tired head just from your explanation!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked Tom Bishop what he thinks about this?

Anonymous said...

from now on if I so much as get a traffic ticket I am asking for a jury trial.

Anonymous said...

so basically the muni courts try and trick you into admitting guilt and paying the fine... great legal system we have.

Anonymous said...

At least RAB has a good message to send out about dopers. Doper's don't come to RAB or it will cost you out he ARSE. Way to go RAB for sending out a positive message that you mean business.

Anonymous said...

I just got back from a jury summons in Gawd's Country.....I had no excuses for dismissal, but half the pool did, which took about an hour to get through.

I left at 10:45AM, had to be back at 1PM, stood around and stood around and stood around, some one barfed in the lady's room sink, stood around some more, I smoked a couple of cigs to keep from baring myself, then they called us up to the court room and Hiz Honor dismissed us all because all the defendants plead guilty.

It was an honor to attempt to attempt to serve, but this one trial they were dealing with was a child of a friend of mine, so I knew I could get out of that with an honest, real reason, plus I visited with his mother while we were all waiting in the courthouse.

The other two cases, I'm glad they plead guilty. If you're guilty, you're guilty.....deal with it.

Now, if you want to hear about my son getting a Urinating in Public ticket, of which he was not the guilty one, but his friend was, (who had a shunt in his head and signed an affidavit to such effect), so therefore my son represented himself in court with said affidavit, please let me know, and I will tell that story. I agree - darned JP courts - I don't think most JP's in Texas are really qualified to serve in such positions.........durrrrrr!

wordkyle said...

In sales this letter would be known as the "assumptive close." There's no question of what's going to happen -- if you don't assert your rights -- so you just pay up without question, because that's what the judge said for you to do.

The lesson? Always ask if you have options when dealing with the government. (Even so, some of them will lie.)

Anonymous said...

Moral of the story?
Don't do drugs.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the dopehead POS's are associated with with other crimes?

How about not doing drugs?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure your wife does a lot of Valium to put up with you, 5:38PM.

Anonymous said...

What the hell you mean call Obama you foo! Call President Bush! He has had experience in matters like these.

Anonymous said...

Good news is that there is actually a way to avoid being arrested this type of thing. The secret is kind of complicated, though some people seem to get the idea. Not having drug stuff around you is a GREAT way to not get arrested for having drug stuff.

Anonymous said...

BG, the answer for you is to run for a state office - get elected and go on a rampage with other law cronies to change things. And be sure it is complicated for the lower courts, so even God won't be able to figure it out.

Anonymous said...

while we have your attention BG, please explain the divorce court mediation requirement in Wise County this can not help anyone but the judge and make things drag out for months. Is Wise County the only county in Texas requiring this and when did they start it? It is dangerous and expensive.

Anonymous said...

Mediation is ordered because it is AMAZINGLY effective--the VAST majority of cases are getting settled without the time and expense of court trials. The judges only have a limited time to handle a huge number of cases involving many other areas of law (including Family Law as just one area), and are trying to get matters resolved with the limited resources available to them. It ain't a perfect world, but they are doing the best can do with what they've got!

Buckwheat said...

The only thing worse than the C.S. RAB cops is that pathetic judge Henry. She is absolutely the worst. I had dealings with her. Dumb as a post and thinks she's a Supreme Court Justice.
Hey, Mayor Mullett, get a better judge and new Barney's.

Anonymous said...

have you ever met someone who said, " I sure like that cop that cited me or arrested me?" Or that judge that issued me a fine is nice! GROW UP. Like my dad use to say, "take your medicine like a man." You whiners think you are above the law. People get tickets, people get arrested, it's the system. I guess you think the police should let everyone do whatever the hell they want.