Missed Community Service
August 26, 2008 2:54 PM Subscribe
How can I best help a friend get out of jail? He accidentally missed his community service gig.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints to Law & Government (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The background: About 7 years ago he was partying with some friends at one of their houses. He was 18, everyone was drunk, and out came the BB guns. He shot a guy in the ass. Nobody thought it was a big deal until a couple of weeks later when the cops showed up. Apparently the victim's mother doesn't appreciate jackass humor. His family was poor, they couldn't afford a lawyer, and he ended up being found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. The judge gave him time served and ordered him to do community service (I'm not sure how many hours were ordered). This was in Hays County, Texas.
What happened: Hays County required him to do 8 hours a month. He lives and works in adjacent Travis County, and they told him he's required to do 12 hours a month. He's married, wants to get on with his life, so he's been doing 16-21 hours per month for a while. In July he missed the weekend of July 4th, thinking that it would be a holiday. He has monthly probation meetings, and when he went in for his August meeting last Wednesday, he was immediately arrested and sent to the Travis County jail, where he's been ever since. Bail is set at $100,000. He was under the mistaken impression that his community service hours roll over month to month. He was on track to have all of this finished by January 2009. Apparently it either doesn't work this way at all, or it does, and it's just a clerical matter.
What's going on: Travis County is holding him until Hays County requests him to go before a judge. At that time he'll be moved from the Travis jail to the Hays jail. We've been told this could take ten business days, so he might not see the judge until nextWednesday, which means he might sit in jail for two weeks. His wife tried to call his probation officer to explain what's going on, and that he was far ahead of schedule for community service, but she can't get past the assistant. The assistant has been curt and bluntly said "We don't have to tell you anything".
His wife has talked to a lawyer in Hays County, and his first order of business will be to try to reduce the bail. That's not going to happen, however, until she retains the lawyer for $2,500, which is far beyond her means at the moment. She's working on putting a lot of things on Craigslist, and a few friends are throwing some stuff into a garage sale, but even if bail is cut in half, she's still looking at $2,500 + $5,000 = $7,500 just to get him out on bond, and there's still the possibility that he'll go back to jail for missing community service.
Does that seem probable? We can't get anyone to give us a straight answer here, and the court-appointed attorney is completely overwhelmed, and has basically suggested a "mercy of the court" defense. We're really hoping that this finally gets to the judge, who will hear the back story, see that he's been doing 21+ hours of community service a month when only 8 is required, and declare this upstanding, tax-paying citizen free to go.
We're kinda looking for any advice we can get here. I know you're not a lawyer (but I hope you are), and you're specifically not his lawyer. We're working on getting a lawyer, so until then, hope us.