Hey everybody, here's an update on how my arraignment went yesterday (If you don't know why I had an arraignment, read my blog "So I got arrested").
So yesterday I got to spend a few lovely hours in a courtroom with a bunch of other people with either similar charges to me, or things like petty theft and prostitution (lucky me!). I went in thinking that they would offer me some kind of bullshit plea bargain to avoid any kind of trial (something like 12 months of probation, fines, courts costs, etc), and I was right. What I didn't expect was that they would add a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia that the cops didn't even charge me with (I guess the DA's office is allowed to just add charges as they see fit after getting the cop's side of the story). I also didn't expect them to offer me no jail time and no probation, but a large fine (over $500) AND that my drivers license be suspended for TWO YEARS. I was one of the few people in court that day that asked a lot of questions, mainly whether the deal would remain on the table if i wanted a lawyer or public defender. The answer was no. I then asked if I got a lawyer or public defender would it change anything about losing my license. Again the answer was no (unless I was found not guilty after a jury trial...fat chance). So basically my options were to either take the deal, pay the money and lose my license, OR I could plead not guilty, get a public defender (I really can't afford a lawyer), and then go to pretrial and hear the next offer from the prosecution (which would most likely have included probation, fines, and still losing my license). In this type of court room setting (for misdemeanors), you don't get very much time to make your decision. I figured I was going to lose my license one way or another, and the fines and court costs weren't going to get any lower. I also don't need several different court dates, and CERTAINLY not a trial in which i would waste even more time (and surely be found guilty), so I did what anyone else that doesn't have a bunch of money does to avoid things getting any worse, I took the deal.
Now there are a couple of details that are definitely worth mentioning: first is that this isn't my first 'offense.' About 8 years ago I was arrested for possession of under 20 grams of cannabis (a misdemeanor that i did 6 months of probation for, and coincidentally the same charge I got this time around). So when I was offered a deal with no probation, which I personally know is terrible, I was pretty happy. Can you imagine if I had lost my license AND had probation? How the fuck would I even get there? Getting to work is already going to be a giant pain in the ass, but getting across town to constantly meet with your Probation Officer and piss in a cup would be just that much worse.
Here's the thing that really bothers me: I am losing my license for a non-traffic offense. I wasn't charged with any kind of driving under the influence, and wasn't even given a ticket for speeding (the cop's excuse for pulling me over to search me). The law here in Florida is that if you get busted for possession of a controlled substance, which includes marijuana, you lose your license for 2 years. It doesn't matter if you're walking down the sidewalk or sitting on your couch, if you get busted with it, your driver's license gets suspended. What kind of bullshit is that?
And here's the REALLY fucked up part: My license is being suspended for a year and half LONGER than that of a person who is busted for an alcohol related DUI (only a 180 day suspension). How the fuck are they going to tell me that my license should be suspended for FOUR TIMES as long when my 'crime' didn't include driving at all? Is it really 4 times better to drive drunk than it is to be in possession of an extremely small amount of a plant? The answer is "no."
Another thing that bothered me was that the judge told me that it would be suspended for 2 years, but that I would be able to get a hardship license (basically a license that only allows you to drive to work and to do the basic necessities) after 6 months. This played a big role in me accepting the plea bargain, because i figured 6 months isn't so bad. When I got home, however, I did a little research, and the Florida DMV's website says that for my offense, the license is suspended for 2 years and the hardship license is only available to apply for after the first year. I feel cheated that the judge would give me bad information and that it influenced my decision, especially since it says nothing about the hardship license in any of my paperwork. I am actually unsure what to do about it, so I'm thinking about just going into the DMV and asking if a judge would have any power over them when it came to getting a hardship license.
So long story short, I got busted for having 0.2 grams of a plant, spent hours in court, lost my license, and need to somehow get back and forth to work in order to pay them hundreds of dollars in fines. Now I can't even take my daughter to school or pick her up. Bravo, Florida, you sure know how to fuck over harmless citizens! Protect and serve my ass. Do me a favor and wear a condom next time you're going to fuck me that hard. Go catch a real criminal you pieces of shit.
More updates to come (and more blogs in general) in the future. Until then, cheers.