Charging documents


Every couple of weeks I drive out of town, to a district court office just within the limits of a one stoplight town, to pick up charging documents.

It’s insurance, really, a way to make sure crimes that police never got around to reporting to us make their way onto our pages.

I drive the long way on sunny days, and then the stack of charges and names languishes on my desk.

Typing them into a list is boring, tedious work.

But at the back of each multi-page set of charges, police write in narrative form what the suspect was supposedly caught doing. And sometimes, those are worth reading for the fun of it.

Take this example. A young man is charged with driving while under the influence of marijuana. Police can smell the burnt marijuana when they approach the vehicle, and tell him so.

“You can search the car, officer,” he answers. “You won’t find anything, we already smoked it all.”

Or this standby, that occurs every few months: a woman reporting to serve her jail sentence for drug possession, brings marijuana to the jail in her purse. Or a man picks up his intoxicated friend from the police station, while intoxicated himself, earning himself a DUI charge to match his buddy’s.

Some people are incredibly helpful. When police responded to an accident one night, one man told them immediately that he was the at-fault driver, that he was drunk, and that they should take him to jail.

They obliged.

But they also arrested a man I presume is his father (same name, address, a generation apart), who was also intoxicated and seen behind the wheel of the vehicle after the accident.

And so I flip to the back of each set of charges, scan over the words, look for something to make me laugh while I type the name, the age, the hometown, the charges, the date filed, the hearing date, and repeat.

It’s sad, though. I think I’ve written about this before, how so many of the names I recognize, running over and over again with the same charges attached. DUI, third offense. Theft, and theft again. Public drunkenness one Friday night, again on a Sunday night.

I write their names and I don’t have to check the spelling, because I know them now.

That’s never good.

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