I had never been in legal trouble in my entire life, ever. But, in October 2015, I found myself with four court dates.
In Virginia, it is apparently not good at all to have been caught speeding at 92 and 94mph. I was facing two felony misdemeanors which had a high possibility of a jail sentence. If not for my lawyer, I would likely have been locked up. I don’t know if that reality or the cost of the lawyer fees is scarier.
On top of those, I had compounded four criminal charges in Maryland around the same time. Rough summer. At my old workplace I had been wrongly accused of stealing a coworker’s medication. Within 15 minutes I had returned from my mid-shift break and then somehow wound up being handcuffed in front of everyone in the parking lot. After that shameful humiliation I had to spend five hours sitting in a jail cell inside of central booking with nothing to do other than comb over what the hell just happened. Even though I honestly didn’t steal my friend’s pills, I had my car searched, a strip search, and hours of grilling questions accusing me of what I outright denied doing with no other evidence than the point of a crying girl’s finger. It was the scariest, most frustrating day of my entire life.
Now that all of the legal proceedings are over, I am left with an incredible debt and a multitude of things to sort through. I got fired, lost all my friends, and have to be analyzed by the state – despite the fact that I didn’t do anything. The wake of all this of course aligns with mid-semester and finals time at school. While trying to climb out of this hole I have not been able to concentrate fully on my schoolwork, and it shows greatly. I am depressed, anxious, and am barred from doing the things I need for classes because all of my legal troubles must be dealt with during hours of school. Once I finally acquired a job that would listen to my explanation for all of these charges, I can finally start paying off some of the lawyer and court fees. That too takes up a serious amount of time, yet it is not expendable because I cannot compile more debt.
Because of the reactions I get from people when I tell them about all of these troubles, it has blocked me from explaining what is going on to teachers from fear of being judged. I am as silent as I was when I was read my rights. I am swimming in all of these struggles with very little lifelines, and right now I can barely keep my head above water.
I heard a quote: “A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.” I hope that once this year is over, I come out a much stronger person because of all of this.