Breakin' the Law is a most excellent song that my oh so famous rock band covered back in the 80s. (My hair was awesome even then, just bigger!)
Now that I have you here, I would like to tell you a little story. You like stories, don't you? Well this is a story about how I broke the law. (gasp!!) Right?! I am such a rebel, such a bad-boy, such a dangerous man that I had to have my day in front of the judge. Why Dee, you might ask (go ahead and ask. I'll wait).. why would such an outstanding citizen such as yourself have to appear in front of 'the man'.
I'm so glad you asked (cuz now I can post about it). It all started when I was a little boy... no, wait. That's a different story. 🙂 A couple of months ago I went fishing (big shocker) at Alamo Lake and got busted by the AZ FnG (pronounced "effin G", meaning Fish and Game for you not familiar with the fishing ghetto vernacular) for not having my fishing license with me. I got a ticket for "Fishing Without a License in Possession". Oh ya. I am a criminal mastermind.
Or criminally absent-minded. I do have a fishing license... no really! Do you remember the trip to Lake Powell this spring? You know, the one where I ran every cell phone within 120 miles dead? Well, I bought the license then. I just left it in the 'junk drawer' at home. I could see it in my head.. in it's little blue protective sleeve on the bottom of the drawer, covered with... well, with junk (it is a junk drawer). I just couldn't show it to Mr FnG, so he showed me a pink piece of paper that said "TICKET!" and explained to me that Arizona Revised Statute (snore, snooze, nap) states that you must have a license in your possession when fishing. OK! Well, we can't have people like that running around. If I weren't taught a lesson, why the next thing you know I'd be tinting my windows too dark!
You know, those FnG guys are like outdoor Mall Cops or Forest Rangers; I'm starting to have a real problem with 'authority figures'. What a bunch of funhaters!
Mr FnG told me that I could just call the court in a couple of weeks and probably send them a copy of my license, if I actually have one (which I do! hello! didn't I just tell the Powell story!). Well the court had a different story. Since I live within 100 miles (I live like 99.3 miles from there) I would have to show up in person. Great. It's not like I have a job or anything. and I can't handle this through mail or even at my local courthouse. I have to drive to Shalome. Evidently it's a little Jewish community out in the middle of... what's that? Oh! I see. My bad.
Evidently it's Salome, not Shalome. 🙂
Anyhoo, it is a little community out in the middle of freakin' nowhere (and this from a guy who lives in Buckeye). It's actually about an 85 mile drive from the office, and google says it takes 2 hours. Well... I am race car driver and I know I can do it in 90 minutes. At least I could have if I hadn't been all distracted and missed my exit. :-/ When I got to exit 69 I realized that I might have passed exit 81. (oopsies!) It's a good thing I trust Google (googling has been so very good for me) and like to be places early, cuz I would so not have made it on time if I hadn't given myself 2 hours!
I only did
90 a little over the speed limit, and only long enough to get me back on schedule. (well... long enough-ish). And I found out why it takes 2 hours to get from my hick town to theirs... half the trip is 35-45 miles per hour! You know why? Me neither! I did see a whole lot of "Watch for Cattle" signs, but I didn't see a single Cattle. And I was looking! According to the signs, Cattles look like cows. (there were pictures, just my speed) 🙂
Because of my... effective driving skills... I still made it to the courthouse about 20 minutes early. When I say courthouse, what I really meant to say is court-shack(s). And I'm not worried about hurting the feelings of the people who work there... they know. I took a quick picture with my phone, so that I would have a 'before' picture for you to remember me by should the worst happen, and worked my way around the building to the
front entrance. I stepped into the lobby/waiting area/holding cell (funny thing about a 'holding cell'. It's not really a good place for holding. I suppose if you had the right person with you it could be pleasant, but generally it's not like that) and felt a little panic ripple through me.
I've been through lot of new emotions and experiences lately, and this was not one of the better ones. The place was just covered with warnings about your legal rights. And disclaimers. And what to expect and not expect during your stay. (no bellhop OR concierge, I'm only giving them 2 stars)
The nice lady behind the bullet-proof glass (except in Salome, it's bb proof glass) handed me a paper about my legal rights and what to expect from the judge, and directed me to the front of the shack (outside and around the corner) where the judge would be waiting for my
I walked in the courtroom looking all good in my work clothes (you know, power tie, fancy shoes) and could just feel the justice. It was either justice or terror, I wasn't really sure which. Anyway, the courtroom was nice little churchy feeling place, with pews for seats and plenty of guilt for everyone. I took a pew in the back of the room, because Mr. Jeff Spicoli was seated at the defendant's table up front. "I'll just sit here and wait my turn" I thought.
Then Judge Dredd noticed me and said (in a very authoratative voice, I might add) "and who are you"?
What? Me? Why I'm Sheriff Goodnight! DeLoooong Goodnight. You can call me Dee. (yes! still with the melodrama! It was so much fun!) I actually didn't think that throwing around my make-believe lawmanship would be a good idea, and I hadn't brought my star... So after I told Mr. Justice my real name, he directed me to defendant's table number 2, right in front of him. Well, this isn't like Law and Order at all!
I took my place at the table next to Spicoli's... not even a "hey" or "dude" or "what's up" from him. All business with the criminal world evidently. The judge rattled off a whole slew of legal sayings about lawyers and weapons and illegal status and full extent of the law and miranda rights and lefts and... ok. I'm back. His Honor started reading the charges against Spicoli, which were like 3 dozen felonies, most of them involving some type of leafy green substances and the various ways to transport, bake or burn them...
And when he got to charge number 3,724 against my new friend and co-lawbreaker, the judge said "you might want to listen to this too, Mr.
McDorkman Goodnight, cuz this penalty applies to your charge as well". Was I not paying attention before? Did I look like I was dozing? I didn't have my phone out (and that NEVER happens!).
Well I was all good right up until then. But, evidently I was being charged with Premeditated Aggravated Fishing Without a License in Possession... (these people take their fishing a little too seriously). Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $750 fine AND 4 months in jail (I'm much too pretty to go to jail!). Now you readers of the fairer sex might be thinking 'just work up a few tears..and bat your eyelashes. that works'. That doesn't work for a guy who's about to go to prison! (although working up tears at that point wouldn't have been very difficult).
While Mr Blackrobe was reading off the charges, Spicoli just kept saying "not guilty". Even I wasn't buying it. I think he was high right then!
When the judge turned his attention to me (I didn't jump or anything) and asked how I pleaded I said "please, please don't send me to jail"! (that would have been good pleading) But I actually said... "can I ask a question your honor?" and this nice man let me clarify what I was being charged with. Not fishing without a license (which I have...remember?), but without it in possession. Crap! Then I plead Guilty your honor (and may the court have mercy on my hair).
Does it still count as being convicted if I plead guilty? 🙂
Mr. HoldingMyFateInHisHands asked me to approach the bench (so legal sounding, isn't it?) because he had a written statement from Mr FnG (who couldn't be bothered to show up to see me swing) and I needed to see if I concured with the statement. The statement was pretty much "Dood didn't have his license, although he claimed it was home in a blue case in his way messy junk drawer, so we harshed on his buzz and wrote him up". (well, I said pretty much). But yah...that's kinda how it happened. So Mr. McBench had me return to my seat while he did the same thing with Spicoli. Except there was not really a FnG statement for my bleary-eyed new friend, more like a DEA statement, I think.
No, I'm not finished yet! Keep reading!
So at this time I was thinking "okay... checkbook is in the car... who can I call to come bail me out that won't just take the checkbook and go shopping?"
Spicoli decided at this time that the whole thing was bogus, and asked the judge (I kid you not) "can I ask you a question?" (riveting, isn't it?) Spicoli said that he really didn't want to spend any more time dealing with this, and if he just changed his pleas to 'no contest' could he pay his fine or whatever and , like, go back to California or something and junk? He didn't want to have to come back.
What's in California that's so important? All it does this time of year is rain and mist and stay cloudy and ruin your freakin' beach vacation!!
Well, evidently the Judge likes Mr Felony Spicoli, because he didn't have to stay, didn't have to change his plea, didn't even have to come back. "Only have to be there for the initial appearance and the rest can be done by mail. It's not like you did anything horribly wrong, like fish without a license in your possession." (Did I mention you don't even have to have any fish? Just the pole.) Just fill out this paperwork and you can be on your way.
Now, Mr. Demeanor (that's me, btw) was called up to the bench again and told in no uncertain terms "don't lean on the bench!" Crap! How can I sign my freedom away if I can't put my hand on the bench. Turns out the bench is mostly made of plywood and duct tape and wouldn't take much pressure. The judge started rattling off (again) the limits of what my punishment could be... and the room started getting a little dark and kinda sideways. And as I was signing my guilty plea, I was picturing that long walk... towards the piranha pool, or wherever non-license possessing fishermen like me go, sleeping on a bed of nails and eating my dinner while kneeling on rose thorns... Then the judge leaned forward and said "you do understand that it is against the law to fish without a license in your possession.." Well, ya! I got that by now thank you very much! Can we get to that speedy trial or quick execution or something?!?! If I'm gonna have to tunnel out I want to get an early start!
Well since this was my first offense, I was given the minimum sentence. Which is, as it turns out, a terrifying trip to Salome. No fine. No jail time. I had spent enough time and money getting to the 5th circle of Buckeye to show up for court. (whew!) And I can petition the court to have the conviction (crap!) stricken from the record. Of course nobody in the office had that form, so they'll mail it to me. Uh-huh.
So that is my story. I hope you enjoyed reading it a whole lot more than I enjoyed living it. Thank you for keeping me company during this trip of mine! It has made my imaginary time in the holding cell so much more funner. I wish you could have been there IRL (cuz I just about needed someone to post bail). And here's the part that involves you the most. You spent more time reading the story than I spent living it! Ya. Not liking my wordiness so much now, are you!?
If you are convicted of a felony you are felon, but did you know that if you are convicted of a misdemeanor you are a misdemeanant??? Didja?!