Remember back in March of 2010 when I was charged with truancy for allegedly skipping class back in high school? Yes, high school…a place I haven’t stepped foot into in over three years…is now coming back to haunt me in the worst way possible.
Let me refresh your memory: I was fifteen-years-old and had missed several, what I would say were hours— but the court ruled as “days”, for doctors appointments during my sophomore year of high school. I was very sick, to the point where, at times, I could barely breathe, let alone hold down any type of food. This lasted for over a year, and doctors did not and still do not know what caused this and instead later ruled that it must have been “all in my head”. I assure you it was not, but that’s a story for another day.
I originally pleaded “not guilty” because, ya know, I wasn’t guilty. I did not cut class to go smoke behind the school, nor did I play hooky because I didn’t feel like going to school that day. I had a legitimate problem and the doctor’s notes to prove it…and none of it fucking mattered.
My “not guilty” plea was rejected and the prosecutor basically told me to either plead guilty or go to jail, and though it sounds ridiculous, I believed him. I had seen some seedy shit go down in this court room already and this dude, I swear to god he was walking hand in hand with the devil. I eventually decided to plead “no contest” and that’s when hell officially opened up, the book was thrown, and I was made an absolute example out of. My amendments were stricken from me, and any evidence I presented in an attempt to defend myself was thrown out– no explanation given. Due to my naivety and not fully understanding the gravity of the situation I was in until it was much too late, I opted not to have a jury present or to have any type of defense counsel heeding the court’s advice…just the way they wanted it. No witnesses to their crimes, no one to stop them from railroading me into a plea I never wanted or intended to take, or to stop them from punishing me to the fullest extent of the law and then some after it was all said and done. They held all the power, and they were implacable.
Fast forward to today; aside from the emotional turmoil of being falsely accused and then unfairly convicted, I have for the most part moved on. It still makes me nauseous every time I think about it but I feel I’ve learned many a valuable lesson from this experience, so I take it all with a grain of salt. Since my eighteenth birthday is rapidly approaching and thus my juvenile records will be officially unsealed, I started looking into getting the charge expunged…and that of course opened up a whole ‘nother can of worms I was not really expecting to open up today.
You see, after I was “convicted”, I paid a fifteen-hundred dollar fine to the court but they still insisted that I do a hundred and eighty days of probation on top of the fine. My mother and I (since I was fifteen at the time) met with my probation officer and she refused to sign any of the paperwork they had presented to us. They wanted my mother to sign over her parental rights to the police— I’m not joking. She refused, and as a result, I never did any probation and since they never came after me again, I thought that the matter had been dropped entirely. It’s been almost five years after all! In my quest for knowledge however, I found a similar story a woman who had been charged with the same crime when she was seventeen and later arrested again when she was twenty-two, for no apparent reason. Though truancy is a Class C Misdemeanor and the statute of limitations runs out in two years, they still apparently have the right to arrest you, and even if they don’t…well, they convicted me illegally before, what’s stopping them from doing it again? I found dozens of these horror stories, with warrants being issued for people’s arrests three, five, sometime’s even ten years after the alleged truancy had taken place. We’re talking about 26-year-olds being hauled into court for a crime, listed in the same category as minor traffic violations I might add, committed when they were sixteen!
My case is no different than any of the other stories I’ve read, and as far as I can see, there is nothing stopping the courts from issuing a warrant for my arrest and convicting me for failure to comply with the probation, despite the fact that no one contacted me about continuing or gave me any type of summons to show up anywhere. The issue was raised and then literally dropped when the papers did not get signed, and I have not a heard a word since— but what are the odds of it staying that way?
I want to say for the record that, though it’s been over three years, I still have no trust in law enforcement or our “justice” system, and that these charges being levied against me were one of the main reasons I dropped out of high school two months after the case was settled. So congratulations to the grand ol’ school system for achieving the exact opposite of what you intended to stop and for damaging kids both emotionally and financially in the process. You’re truly making the world a better place!
And I guess I’m not getting my record expunged either, goddammit.
§Rainbows & Skeletons§