I married an idiot.
December 31, 2013 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Husband was arrested for saying something stupid during chemotherapy. What happens now?

My husband is 64. He goes once a month to for chemotherapy. He has gone for chemo therapy for about 6 months. He is there for many hours. Since he is there for so long, he brings a big bag. Today he left his bag at his chemo station before starting the therapy. He jokingly said, "don't touch the bag it is full of bombs." He tends to say stupid things since he thinks he is being funny. Next thing is the clinic is evacuated and my husband is arrested for terroristic threatening. He was booked and then released with no bail. He was polite and apologetic through the entire ordeal. He can barely walk, uses a cane and has a brace on his leg. The detective told him after he was released that the whole thing was stupid, but it was a Class A felony.

My question is, what do we do now? What will happen? We no assets and cannot pay for an attorney.
posted by wandering_not_lost to Law & Government (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Has he been charged with anything?
posted by bluedaisy at 3:29 PM on December 31, 2013


Your Profile does not say what jurisdiction or even what country you are in, so it will be hard for any one to suggest next steps for you. If your husband was assessed a fine, he might ask for a court hearing to plead his case in order to get the fine reduced or withdrawn. If your husband was given a court date, he should plan to appear and tell the judge that he made a stupid joke because he is from an era when stupid jokes were not felonies. He should be respectful and contrite. He can explain but not be argumentative. I am not your lawyer; perhaps someone who is a lawyer can give you better advice.
posted by Cranberry at 3:31 PM on December 31, 2013


You should probably specify what country you're in if you want to get helpful answers to this question.
posted by dortmunder at 3:31 PM on December 31, 2013


USA, Hawaii, Maui County.

Arrested for a Class A felony, but released without bail on his own recognizance. It is being sent to the prosecutor for determination as to whether he will be charged.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:33 PM on December 31, 2013


If charges are brought, and if you qualify in terms of income level Legal Assistance may provide some help:

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii

Ph: (808) 242-0724
Ph: (800) 499-4302

Hours
Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 11:30 pm
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
posted by HuronBob at 3:37 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


My understanding is that Legal Aid only helps with civil legal matters; this would be a criminal matter (if charged.) There are public defenders for low income folks needing this type of assistance.

IANAL. If charged, your husband would likely have a first appearance before a judge or magistrate. He would have an opportunity to ask for a public defender, if you are unable to afford an attorney. If you are able to afford an attorney, get one now.

The prosecutor may charge the felony, may reduce the charge to a misdemeanor that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt on the facts available, or may simply ROTFL and dismiss the charge.

Either way, some good advice for hubby would be to not talk about this with anyone. No social media, no texts, no ranting in front of the news crew. Etc.

Good luck!

Edited to add: And don't talk to the prosecutor without a lawyer, either, even out of a perfectly admirable sense of civic duty. The prosecutor's job is to find people guilty; only your attorney is on your side.
posted by Schielisque at 3:45 PM on December 31, 2013 [30 favorites]


You need the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction, not strangers on the internet. Felonies, especially those that relate to terrorism, are very serious things. That you have neither assets nor money unfortunately is not really relevant here. Start with the public defender's office.
posted by dfriedman at 3:47 PM on December 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


Public defender, or you can call Legal Aid and see if they do referrals for criminal matters. Good luck.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:52 PM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


terrorism
Just a minor note, but the crime of "terroristic threats" (example from MN) is an old one and isn't related to more modern legislation targeting stuff like the OK federal building bombing or 9/11 type stuff.

All that said: absolutely consult with a criminal defense attorney; call the county and ask for help doing so, or call your local state bar. Lots of people decide they "can't afford an attorney," instead of realizing "we really need an attorney here, what are the resources that can help us get there?"

FWIW, I think it's highly likely that you'll come out of this ok.
posted by kavasa at 4:08 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


(FYI Legal Aid can help with criminal matters in some jurisdictions, not sure if HI is one of them. Don't talk to a prosecutor w/o a defense attorney to be sure, but it is not prosecutors' job to find people guilty as someone said up thread; they don't have quotas to fill or anything. Good luck!)
posted by mlle valentine at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Knowing a guy that spent a year and a half in jail (in California) for spitting on a cop while handcuffed, I would strongly suggest you involve a lawyer in this day and age. His charge was "assaulting an officer." "Terrorism" doesn't sound much better.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:02 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


"If your husband was given a court date, he should plan to appear and tell the judge that he made a stupid joke because he is from an era when stupid jokes were not felonies. He should be respectful and contrite. He can explain but not be argumentative. I am not your lawyer; perhaps someone who is a lawyer can give you better advice."

I am a lawyer, so let me give you better advice. The above is not good advice.

If your husband gets charged, he has a right to an appointed attorney, and until he gets one, he should not say anything at all to a judge other than "I want an attorney."

posted by mikeand1 at 5:49 PM on December 31, 2013 [50 favorites]


Your husband needs to get a consultation with a lawyer about what his options are and what his best overall strategy should be. You don't need to hire a lawyer to defend him throughout the whole process -- if he's charged, a public defender can take over. He should, however, pony up a few hundred bucks for a one-off consultation regarding his options as far as legal assistance and how he can maximize his chances of avoiding charges. I understand if this is a big hardship for you right now, but we're looking at a felony here so I think this is one of those times when you need to do whatever you can to come up with some money.

This is not something that the internet is going to be able to give you good advice about. Even actual lawyers are unlikely to be able to give him good advice of more than the most general sort. This sort of thing depends a lot on things like what county you are in, what court he is going to appear at, and what individual judge or magistrate or whatever is going to be making the decision about whether or not to charge him. A lawyer who is familiar with the specific court and the specific crime that your husband is dealing with will be able to tell him, for instance, whether the "It was just a joke, I realize now that it was a stupid thing to say, I'm very sorry" routine is likely to get any traction or not.
posted by Scientist at 5:58 PM on December 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


If your husband gets charged, he has a right to an appointed attorney, and until he gets one, he should not say anything at all to a judge other than "I want an attorney."


He should not say anything to anyone other than that he wants an attorney. Not the judge, not any cops or prosecutors who might contact him before or after charging him. He may not be provided one until/if he's charged but i see no good coming from talking to Johnny law without representation.
posted by phearlez at 6:18 PM on December 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


^^^ I was specifically responding to the post telling him to talk to the judge.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:53 PM on December 31, 2013


If he does have to go before a judge, you go with him and tell the judge that you "married an idiot" - the judge will probably agree and release him into your custody.

I feel sorry for your poor husband. Our world has gone nuts.
posted by aryma at 7:47 PM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Justin Carter was jailed for 5 months for a joke he made on facebook. It wasn't until the case gathered national publicity that the charges were dropped. Martin Thomas Pierro was arrested for a twitter joke and it appears that publicity was a factor in getting the charges dropped.
Hopefully you are dealing with a rational prosecutor who won't pursue this.
You should research others who have been in this position, perhaps their lawyer would be someone to start with, if only to get a recommendation.
Get things in place now, ways of getting donations, sites and bloggers who cover this sort of thing, local reporters, etc. If the prosecutor does pursue this, at least you will have resources and strategies to discuss with your attorney.
posted by Sophont at 8:01 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also might suggest that you discuss, with a competent defense attorney, whether or not contacting a freelance journalist or local news organization would be a reasonable step for encouraging the charges to be dismissed. Don't do this without talking to an attorney, though.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:15 PM on December 31, 2013


You shouldn't even have posted this question, to be honest. Talk to a criminal lawyer and discuss this with absolutely no one else until then.
posted by empath at 10:36 PM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is he welcome back to continue treatments at the facility this went down? I would figure that out too. You need an alternative plan if not.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:18 PM on December 31, 2013


I am a public defender and agree that the advice to keep discussions about the case limited to your attorney is the way to go. One thing you might check on your own to make yourself feel better is to see if the Hawai'i statute under which your husband might be charged has the word "willful" in it anywhere. If so, "I married an idiot" or "he was just kidding" could be a viable defense. Also, don't be afraid of public defenders. We usually are here because we like to help people like your husband. Good luck to you both.
posted by *s at 2:15 AM on January 1 [6 favorites]


We no assets and cannot pay for an attorney.

Lots of people think that, but that's the wrong question. The question is not "Can I afford an attorney?" The question is "Can I afford to go to jail?" If the answer to the latter is "No," then you either do absolutely whatever it takes to hire an attorney, or you rely on the public defender.
posted by valkyryn at 3:53 AM on January 1 [8 favorites]


Even if all criminal charges are dropped, there may be some financial fee that is billed to you due to the expenses of dragging out the bomb sniffing dogs, police officers, swat teams, fire departments, etc. Not to mention the derailment of the normal daily operation of business and loss of income.
Good luck.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:34 AM on January 1


Oh, heavens....if you can't afford an attorney one will be appointed for you but he should not be talking to anyone until he does that...go back to court for the next date and tell the judge/everyone you talk to that you would like to apply for a court appointed attorney...or better yet call ahead of time to the court and ask where he should go to apply for a court appointed attorney....but keep his mouth shut except to an attorney...sheesh...SEE Above....good luck... heavens knows we all have moments when we say things we think are funny..
posted by OhSusannah at 10:36 PM on January 2


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