Monday, March 9, 2009

One Night in County Jail...

So I was driving to work early Friday morning (even before the earliest of unofficial-risers) when I was pulled over by the Champaign Police.

No worries - I had given myself plenty of time to get to the News Gazette by 3AM. Well, the cop informed me that my registration (license plate) light was out. Just had to write me a warning and I'd be on my way.

Five minutes passed, I began to feel a bit of anxiety. Then another squad pulled up behind the CPD SUV. The anxiety quickly turned into a mild panic attack.

I couldn't figure out why I was still waiting, as ten minutes turned into 15, and 15 into nearly 30, before the cop returned to my car, asking me to step out. By now, my heart rate was three times what it was a half hour prior.

"You have a warrant," officer friendly stated as he cuffed my hands behind my back.

"For what?!" I quickly replied in astonishment.

"Violation of terms of supervision for a DUI arrest."

Yes, I had been arrested on DUI charges back in August, but had since been to court, plead guilty, and received my sentence - which to my knowledge I have complied with 100%.

I asked the cop what that meant. Of course he didn't know.
"Did you have another DUI arrest?"
I hadn't even been pulled over since August.
"Well, it says the warrant was issued December 4."
Well, that's news to me!

Shouldn't I have been informed of this at some point? Or do they just let us "criminals" roam the streets, wanted, until we happen to have a registration light out?

Last month I went to the DMV to renew my license. No one there said anything. I have had background checks for two jobs since then, both showed a clean record. WTF!?

The arresting officer failed to read me any rights, answer any questions, and basically ignored the fact that I was having a panic attack and refused me my medication. He and his cop buddy made sure to search my vehicle for anything illegal, and thankfully grabbed my cell but "forgot" my wallet which lie on the passenger seat right next to my phone.

At no point between being pulled over and released nearly five hours later that morning, was I ever informed of any rights, allowed any medication, an attorney, food or water. When they put me in a cell I finally got a chance to piss. Thankfully they allowed a phone call, but because it was "long distance" (to my Mom's cell in the suburbs), I was allowed to "bend the rules" (which they "don't do for everybody") and call her from my cell and give her the number of the Champaign County Jail to call back "in like fifteen, twenty minutes."

Once I removed every article of clothing potentially harmful to me or my cellmates (including turning my socks inside out...?), answered a bunch of ridiculous questions about my medical history, religious preferences, etc. (which made no sense because I was never allowed medical treatment, nor prayer/spiritual time), and turned over all of my belongings, I was allowed to talk to my mother, who was on hold.

"I apparently violated my supervision. I'm having a panic attack and they won't give me my meds..." I said to her as I trembled.
She was in a daze (understandably, to be woken up at 4AM), but suddenly came to when I mentioned the $20,000 bond!!! Which, if you're not familiar with how bail works, equals $2,000 to get out of jail or Cook County would come get me within 24 hours.

That was another question the idiots couldn't answer: why twenty grand? My best guess is that it's Cook County, because for a first time offender at minimal risk, I think that's a bit excessive... isn't there an amendment regarding that?

At this point, I'm tired, confused and angry. They can't figure out what's going on. Something about having to contact Cook and get the case number. Meanwhile I'm sitting on the phone with my Mom who is losing patience, and wants to call back later, once they can provide her with the number for the third-party credit card bail agent (who by the way charges an 8% fee).

It's about 5:30AM and I've been in and out of a cell about three times. They inform me that the bail has come through, and they are once again waiting on Cook to respond. Mug shot, fingerprints, back in the cell...

I see an officer grab my bag of belongings at nearly 7AM. Then, a group of female inmates is brought in, and he drops my things and attends to them.

Another thirty minutes pass as I wait in the cell. Finally he opens the door and lets me out. By the time I'm released and given back my stuff, along with an April 2nd Cook County court date, it's almost 8AM and I light up a cigarette and call for a ride back home. I've missed my overnight shift, am running on about two hours sleep in the last 48 hour period, and still have no clue what I did wrong to end up in a cell with a bunch of Chris Browns and Rod Blagos.

My car was impounded. I had expired registration as well, which meant I had to pay for that and show proof to the CPD before getting my car out of the impound in Urbana. In other words, my first paycheck was gone in one day. Not to mention, I missed another work shift, spending my whole day running back and forth around town dealing with the bureaucratic nonsense of the Illinois government.

So, here I am again, flat broke. I have court next month, and have absolutely no clue what I have done wrong.
"How do you plead?"
Uhh... no contest?

Can you sue the government?
I mean can I at least claim unlawful arrest?

What an ordeal. I feel so violated. I don't feel like the citizen of any sort of "free country," that's for sure.

If anybody can sympathize, help in any way, or just be mad at the government for/with me, please comment.


splinky said...

That is horrible ryan, im so sorry u had to go through that.

Before your court date in april can u find out what u did wrong exactly? Is it possible you werent supposed to leave the county on supervision??

They never send anyone information of a warrant, it is interesting though you didnt get arrested for it back when u renewed your license. That is supposed to be number one place to get caught...possibly it wasnt in the system yet.

Anyways.. dont let this derailment discourage you, u have been doing great with getting your life on track for 09! TRY to keep your head and spirits high and focus on the positive things in your life.

Im here for you if u want to talk

Jessica said...

I keep forgetting to ask if you've talked to your cousin about possible advice. I've agreed before and will agree again...all ridiculous. We need to find you a lucky charm :)