Lost in the System

It’s not hard to get lost in the shuffle of the criminal justice system.  Just ask Destiny Hoffman of Clark County, Indiana, who was given two days in jail as her sentence. Due to a paperwork mistake, however, she served 154 days before an assistant district attorney noticed what had happened.
Sadly, these kinds of mistakes are not entirely uncommon.  If someone does not have an attorney or a close relative on the outside who will make a fuss for them, people are often held for months–sometimes a year or more beyond the time they should serve.  Usually, the sheriff’s department or jail authority will catch mistakes like this.  Still, the Gouner Law Office gets at least three or four calls yearly from people who have done several days or weeks beyond what they were required to serve.
A more common story is about people who are unrepresented and cannot make bond. They sometimes serve months beyond the normal sentence for the crime of which they are accused.  Following an arrest, the judge will set a “bond out” amount, usually within 12-48 hours of the arrest and booking in the parish prison. If they have the finances, they can post bond.  Otherwise, they will be held until the case comes to trial.  Misdemeanor cases – those that are less serious than felonies – carry no more than a six-month jail sentence.  That means the maximum time the judge could impose is 180 days in the parish prison.
The court system, however, can move at a snail’s pace.  As a result, people can often remain in jail for six months or more for a crime that has a typical sentence of little or no jail time.  A lawyer can often get the bond reduced or even waived under certain circumstances.

If you or a loved one is arrested, it is important to immediately hire an attorney. Having legal representation can often mean the difference between sitting in jail for months or a speedy resolution to your situation.

(To see the news story on Destiny Hoffman, click here.)

Written By: Greg Gouner
May we help you with a legal situation? To schedule a private consultation, call the Gouner Law Office at 225-293-6200 or toll free 800-404-1921You can also fill out our contact form.

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