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Pre-sentencing

Interview with John

JM: Tell us about the pre-sentencing process:
John: The pre-sentencing process if you are held in the jail is a waiting game. You will go to court every two to three months apart. That may sound quick but compared to bigger cities it is actually quite a while, or compared to if you are out on the streets it is actually pretty quick. I used public defenders since i could not afford to hire my own.After you are arrested , the next day you are taken to municipal court and the judge bounds you over to circuit court after he says that probable cause is found. Your next court date is about a month away and is in circuit court were they deal with felons. On that day you just ask for a lawyer or let the judge know you are going to hire one. The judge then tells you a lawyer should be down to the jail to see you before the next date he appoints.Then if you are lucky a lawyer will come see you sometime and depending on your attitude and how he feels, you may get back in to court every month or two and get sentenced within four to eight months depending on the severity of the crime.

JM: Did you have police stop by your house for questioning? If not please give us details on how you came to be arrested.
John: Well, at the time I was manufacturing methamphetamine. I had went to my girlfriends house to see if she wanted to ride with me to the place I was going to be working at that night. By working I mean manufacturing. It was about two in the morning when I finally got ready to get on the road and for some reason I decided we would take her car because it was newer.That was the wrong choice because the tags were expired and so less than two miles from her house a State trooper blue lighted me as I was pulling in to the gas station.Needless to say that I am not a licensed driver and I am on parole at the time so that alone gives them a good reason to want to search the car and myself. I was in possession of some methamphetamine and I was carrying the components in the trunk to assemble the lab I would be using to manufacture. I was arrested and by the grace of God they let her go home.

JM: What was court like? Please give as many details as you recall.
John: Court here is a matter of how much money you have or if you know the right person. Going to court from jail is terrible for the fact that you are wearing black and white stripes and handcuffs and shackles around your ankles so if by chance you were innocent, you sure look guilty! Then I had learned by that time that I was just another number or face to my public defender. Public pretender is what we often refer to them as, but I try to put myself in there shoes and I can see were after time of dealings with all types of people, and the majority probably lying and then seeing the same ones over and over that you tried to help because they said they learned their lesson, well I can see how that would get to a person. Anyways, if you have money to dish out in these courts then court can be a lot better and if not you are treated like a number and you rarely have say so at times you should. One thing that sticks out in my mind is that the lawyers that are public defenders seem to only look at the case files for your case right there on the spot. You can just see that the only other times they looked at your case or thought about it is at the other court dates, and unless you have been through the process before you will probably get railroaded into taking a bad deal when you could have got off easier.

JM: What were your original charges? What did you end up being convicted of?
John: My original charges were possession of a controlled substance- possession of paraphernalia with the intent to manufacture and driving under the influence.I was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and DUI#1. Since I was on parole I got a parole violation also so I was convicted or found guilty of that first.

Read about sentencing in the Craighead County Jail

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