Monday, April 03, 2006

I Fought the Law and I Won

Yes, I was a criminal defendant. Depending on who you would have asked back then, I was either unfairly targeted or I was a dangerous criminal who managed to get away with this crime and many more.

Date of the crime: June 3, 1977
Summons to appear in court or have arrest warrant issued: August 5, 1977
Date of arraignment: August 19, 1977

First, the crime did happen as described in the warrant. So someone was guilty.

The evidence? My car was used to commit this crime and since my car was a purple Triumph Spitfire and the impact of the first part of the crime left purple paint and car parts at the scene of the crime, I didn't even try to claim that the car involved wasn't mine.

Before the warrant was issued, I gave the victim money with the expectation that the payoff would be an effective one.

But someone in the DA's office saw the crime and investigation reports and decided that this crime had to be prosecuted. He'd encountered me before and those encounters had left a bad taste in his mouth.

He called me either shortly before or shortly after my summons arrived and made it clear that he would do everything in his power to see me convicted. The pressure was on and the only way to relieve the pressure before the arraignment would be to name someone else as the guilty party and agree to testify. I could have ratted because I knew the identity of the real criminal.

Instead of making a deal, I went to my arraignment acting as my own legal representative.

The first witness was the victim. In response to the prosecution's questions, he described the crime and the negative impact it had on his life. In response to my question, he admitted that he had accepted money from me.

The second witness was the sheriff's deputy who investigated the crime. In response to the prosecution's questions, he described the crime scene and described how he matched the crime to my car. In response to my question (rephrased once per the judges orders), he admitted that he had been the middleman in the payoff to the victim and that he had led me to believe that my payment would end the investigation.

The judge struck his gavel and called out, "Case dismissed."

The prosecution's representative couldn't believe what was happening and questioned the judge until it seemed like he'd be in contempt of court.

So what offense was I free from?
The offense of Duty on striking unattended car or other property (RCW 46.52.010)

The crime description in the criminal complaint is as follows (identifying information left blank):
Did unlawfully strike a fence at ___, the property of ____, and failed to stop and make known her identity.

My payoff? Around a hundred dollars to repair the fence. (I learned in court that the fence in question had been struck multiple times, but only my car left enough evidence to match it to a specific car.)

What really happened? My friend's boyfriend was behind the wheel and at a curve in a paved road that had been oiled and graveled (don't ask me why the road crew did this) he skidded on the gravel and hit a fence post belonging to his ex-girlfriend's father. Knowing that said father hated his guts, he decided not to stick around. He returned my car to me and to hide what he'd done to my car, he parked it so the damaged bumper and turn light were facing away from the house and toward the street.

Where had I encountered someone from the prosecutor's office? In driver's ed. Working for the DA was his summer job, the rest of the year he was one of three driver's ed teachers at my high school. I thought he was a stiff-necked jerk who liked authority too much and he thought, well, you can probably guess what he thought. And, yes, I passed driver's ed. I was snarky, but I did the work needed to get my driver's license.

The ironic thing about that situation was that all of the things this man disliked about me came about in response to my being raped.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:06 AM   0 comments links to this post


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