The fallout of justice

The full effects of committing a serious crime seem to come as a surprise to people, especially the defendants.

If there is a violent crime against a person or any arrest involving a police SWAT team, then odds are you’re going to immediately see some of the direct and indirect consequences.

In the last few police raids, we’ve seen couples taken out of their homes in whatever clothes they had on at the instant police slapped on the cuffs.

These more dramatic arrests tend to lean more towards the covert side of investigations (i.e. drug cases) and are carried out in the hopes of catching the perpetrators red-handed.

Several of the latest drugs raids resulted in defendants awakening to the sound of flash-bang grenades crashing through their windows. Often defendants are suspected drug users and that lifestyle choice can easily run in to the wee hours of the morning.

So imagine slipping into a drained and euphoric sleep the night before and then the shock of waking up a few hours later to an explosion, one designed to physically stun its targets with a wave of crushing sound and blinding light. This is a direct consequence.



The second worst part of the experience for most won’t come until several hours later as they’re leaving the local court where they were arraigned. So after appearing before the judge in your underwear and in the Scooby Doo pajamas no one was ever meant to see you in, you’ll be led out of the building by police. At this time it is quite possible to encounter an Evening Sun photographer. This is an indirect consequence.

It’s a small town and word travels fast. People want to know why things are exploding down the street and why police are swarming all over. Often the troubled house is already infamous and community members have previously complained of constant foot traffic going in and out and other late-night neighborhood harassment. Where do you think most police investigations begin?

It’s no surprise to learn that many people have no idea what to expect from our justice system or how it works. Ask anyone who’s been there; nothing makes you more aware of your ignorance than standing before the bench in shackles. The educational power of the experience is one few forget.

The basic gist: First is an arrest and then your first court arraignment where the charges against you are explained along with your basic rights.

Within a week of that, you may choose to have a felony hearing, where one can dispute any of the felonies they were arrested for. If you waive the felony hearing or the judge finds in favor of the prosecution, you will sit before the grand jury.

If they indict a person, their case goes to County or Supreme Court where the defendant is again arraigned before the higher level judge.

After that there are more hearings and fact-finding proceedings where you can attest the circumstances of your arrest and the evidence the prosecution intends to use against you. If you make it through that you’ll reach jury selection and eventually a criminal trial.

All of the listed proceedings are conducted in a public courtroom and every single word is recorded. The most serious cases, including murder cases, are often tightly sealed and the facts and circumstances of the case slowly seep out in these various court appearances.

Often if the new releases of information dramatically change the story of the case or make it more interesting, you may see a newspaper article.

I really wish there was a crash course in high school where kids could actually witnesses the steps a serious crime takes as it works its way through the justice system.

We could show them a mock up of the typical attorney’s bill in a felony level trial.

We could have them watch the shocked expressions of defendants as they’re remanded to jail on cash bail so staggering that most simply blink in disbelief.

We could review the newspaper articles and pictures, too.

Another good idea would be to sit down with the families of those who have been humiliated and stressed as a result of the case.

Or maybe we could sit with the alleged victim and their families.

Understanding the full fallout of their actions may make some think twice about them.

People think there is a crime and there is a punishment, but there is so much more to be endured in between.

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