Yesterday, as I was pulling out of my driveway with J I noticed 2 police officers walking down my street. We stopped, rolled down the window, and inquired if there was something wrong and if there was anything we could do to help. The officer replied by asking if J was indeed JC. She replied yes, and the officer asked her to put the vehicle in park and turn off the vehicle.
At this point I was well aware something was amiss. After confirming her identity, the officer informed her there was a bench warrant for her arrest due to not appearing in court for a traffic ticket.
J in disbelief explained to the officer she had gone to court for the ticket, not once, but twice. The officer who wrote the ticket called off sick the first date, and then rescheduled the second date (which had been written in red on her ticket by the clerk of court) without notifying her. On the second court date, the judge dismissed the ticket stating "I dont feel it necessary to waste anymore of your time" presumably referring to the officer not showing up nor notfiying her by mail of the second rescheduling.
The officer in our driveway then called into the station and asked if there were any notations on the bench warrant which there weren't. He asked us to step out of the vehicle, and explained to J that she could come down to the station, pay the reduced fine (for the dismissed ticket) and see the clerk of court monday morning to see if she would be required to pay the full amount. She asked several times why this was happening, and why she had to pay for a ticket that was dismissed. The officer stated that the ticket had not been dismissed, she had not shown up for court, and they were simply "doing their job."
At this point I went into the house to get my phone to notify her parents and call mine for advice. When I came back outside, I see her standing there shaking and sobbing, IN HANDCUFFS. She was cuffed while I was inside, as well as in front of the nosy neighbors on our street who were now outside watching. She asked to sit down, and one of the officers was going to make her sit on the ground until the other officer said she could sit in the back of the van we had been driving. Fortunately our roommate had some cash, and I got that from him before they paraded her down the street to one of the THREE squad cars parked there.
I proceeded to follow them to the station, at which point they took her back to talk to some desk jockey. She was informed at this point she would have to come in the following morning to talk to the clerk of court about the remainder of the fine, she would have to make sure her license had not been suspended, and that this would most likely be in her record. All I could do was watch through a window as these officers treated her like she was totally guilty and was doing nothing but lying to them. They let her go with a receipt and a copy of the bench warrant.
We went to talk to the clerk of court this morning. She wasnt even going to see J until her assistant was given the rundown of the situation. Once we finally got her out there, she pulled the same "you're guilty" act until J insisted she check the court docket for the second rescheduled date, and sure enough, in bright blue ink, it read "J C, Traffic Ticket, (officer name), DISMISSED.
The clerk's face blanched. She immediately began backpedaling and explaining how to get a refund of the fine paid the day before, how they would make sure her license was not suspended, etc, how they would make sure it was all reversed. At this point I couldnt keep my mouth shut, and asked how they planned on reversing being stopped in our driveway, handcuffed, and paraded down the street to a squadcar, over a ticket that was dismissed and noted in the docket as so. The clerk offered her "deepest heartfelt apologies." RIGHT.
For the record, J was not even guilty of the traffic ticket. I was in the car with her when she got pulled.
1/2 day work missed for first court date (because officer couldnt be bothered to show)
1/2 day work missed for second court date (because officer still cant be bothered)
1/2 day work missed to see clerk of court today (because of someone not paying attention while entering the judges notes in the computer)
1/2 day work missed to go to court wednesday in order to get a refund (same as above)
2 days of her work is worth more than simply paying a ticket for something she didnt do.
She will lose more money than she will get back for the refund because of the missed work for that.
She would have lost less money, in either case, had she been guilty. Instead, she will lose more than the ticket was worth, has been arrested, handcuffed, and paraded down the street to be placed in a squad car because she chose to pursue her innocence.
I am virtually certain there will be no internal reprimand for the individual who didnt transcribe the notes properly, and there is no way for us to force the issue due to the cost that would involve.
It doesnt pay to be innocent.
DISCLAIMER: I am well aware this is fairly harshly written and accusatory, and its supposed to be. There are good administrative/police departments out there. At this point though, I dont see how it pays to be innocent when someones clerical error can have these results.