In August of last year I was put on probation and sentenced to fifteen days of jail time (waivable depending on how I do on probation) and assigned three classes for a shoplifting misdemeanor
. Because I had been on a twelve hour swing shift seven days a week at a factory and my son had several health problems when he was born, it was very difficult for me to complete my assigned tasks. My original probation officer was extremely overloaded, and so even though she was aware of my situation and allowed me to contact her via phone and email and stop in to her office when I was able, over half of her case load was divided between two other officers and I was one of the cases that was moved. My new probation officer was not informed of our agreement, and when I missed her monthly group meeting she deemed me noncompliant and sent me to court
. After I spoke with her she realized her mistake and emailed the judge explaining the situation. However, since I was already given a court date I had to appear. I asked for a public defender and was given the same one I had originally.
Let me explain my offense: while pregnant I took my nieces to the YMCA to go swimming, as they were about to move to Washington and I was trying to spend as much time with them as possible. After taking them home, I ran to Wal-Mart to go grocery shopping. I had a tote bag with a wide opening for our wet towels, but no pockets. I removed the towels but kept the bag to carry my wallet, phone, and keys in the store. I had extremely low blood pressure during my pregnancy and would get dizzy and lightheaded often. Instead of leaning over for things on low shelves, I would squat and hold onto my cart for balance with one hand and occasionally just toss the items into my cart. In the case of prenatal vitamins, fish oil, sunscreen, and baby booties I did not see them land in my bag - or maybe they rolled into it, I'm not sure. I asked for a public defender at court and was given Brandon B***. He did not return my phone calls or try to get ahold of me before my sentencing date. He met with me in the hall of the courthouse about five minutes before my appearance and told me there was no way that anyone would believe me and to take the plea bargain. I did as he suggested. I have since learned some things about law in general and have become aware of all of the things that could have been done to help me: showing video surveillance, calling character witnesses, etc. I feel 100% confident that if the judge had seen footage of my accidental crime, I would have been found not guilty.
I am now working three jobs. When I went to court for my probation violation, my judge was absent and his fill in for the day had no access to the email my probation officer sent, so postponed things for another date when my original judge would be there. At that date, I was granted a public defender and given another date. At both of those the time was set for 330 on the afternoon. My last date was set for 11am. Between my lack of sleep with a teething baby and working so much, I just forgot that the time was different, and showed up to check in for court at 3pm. I was informed of my mistake and tried to contact my lawyer. I spoke with his receptionist, but never him. Things were rescheduled for Tuesday, September 27th. This time my lawyer didn't even approach me in the hall, and when we went before the judge he was unaware of things his receptionist had questioned me on for him (how far I was in my classes, etc). The judge said since I had missed court, I was sentenced to complete my jail time starting this Friday at 7pm.
I'm a single mom without any family nearby. My ex fiance is in the process of signing his parental rights away (he never wanted to have children). I don't know what to do with my baby. Do I need to contact child protective services? I can't find anywhere that will take him for that long. He has a heart condition and I am still nursing him per his doctor's suggestion (he is almost fourteen months old).
I lost my job because I used up my FMLA while my son was in the hospital and then had to miss to complete my classes, one of which I have to retake because I was late coming from work and it counted as an absence. Now I have three jobs and I'm really struggling to make ends meet. My car was repossessed last week and I am two months behind on my mortgage now.
On top of all of that mess, I have familial essential tremor which is randomly completely disabling. I take primidone, propranalol, and xanax for it. I had some problems during pregnancy: extremely low blood pressure, which caused this whole mess to begin with, and hormonal imbalances which have continued. I've been prescribed paxil to help rectify the problem. I am unsure what to do about any of that during a jail sentence
I had apprised Mr. B*** of my medical conditions when he first spoke with me in the courthouse hall immediately before my first court appearance, but he has never once mentioned anything to the judge about myself or my son. Is that something I am expected to do on my own? I've never been given an opportunity to speak for myself during court.
My probation officer told me that she is unable to help me in any capacity because I'm technically no longer on probation, even though I haven't finished my classes. I went to the jail hoping for some answers but Officer P*** told me I need to speak with my lawyer. I then contacted my lawyer's receptionist again and she told me to contact the jail, and that this is my own fault for doing things last minute. This is all the time I have been given.
Can you give me any kind of clarification as to what can be done? I am extremely worried about my baby boy.