John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

My criminal past

Apparently it was wrong of me to end Wednesday's post the way I did. I don't think I agree, but nevertheless, here is, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the story.

So there I was, standing in the empty apartment. Once I'd shaken off the shock, I hied myself to the apartment complex's rental office to talk to them about what had happened. They were as confused as I was, or possibly more so, because according to their records that apartment was unoccupied.

It was at that point I called the police, and after a reasonably short wait a Loudoun County Sheriff's Deputy showed up to take my statement. I told him everything I knew about the person I thought I was renting from, which wasn't much unfortunately, reported what had been taken, and so on. He said they'd be in touch, and indeed, I got a call from him the very next day. He needed to talk to me, but since I was at work at the time, I suggested we meet later at the rental office where we'd spoken the day before.

I should take a step back at this point and talk briefly about the fairly lengthy period of time during which I was a scofflaw. The specific laws at which I scoffed were those that pertained to registering and insuring my car, and my status as a licensed driver. Between 2004 and 2006, when my car broke down and I couldn't afford to have it repaired, I racked up more than dozen moving violations, including expired registration, no county tag, driving while uninsured, and driving with an suspended license. Shame on me!

With all the violations I was racking up, it was probably inevitable that I would lose track and forget to show up for one of my required court dates. And when I did, the judge charged me with contempt of court and issued a capias warrant. If I'd been pulled over again after that, I would have been arrested on the spot. But as it happened, my car died before that happened, and being an otherwise law-abiding citizen, I was off the radar. Until, of course, I called the sheriff's to report that I'd been robbed. Once I did that, they inputted my name into the system and the warrant popped up.

So, back to 2007. When the deputy showed up with his partner, he was extremely apologetic and seemingly somewhat embarrassed as he explained he was obligated to take me into custody, and that policy dictated I be restrained while they transported me to the magistrate's office at the Adult Detention Center outside Leesburg. So I was handcuffed behind my back -- using two pairs of cuffs, one on each wrist and cuffed to each other, to make it as comfortable as possible -- helped into the back seat of the cruiser, and taken to the clink.

Once we got there, the deputy took me before the magistrate -- the office is staffed 24 hours a day -- and explained that I had more or less turned myself in and recommended I be released on my own recognizance. The magistrate was amenable to that, so I was free to go. The deputy gave me a lift up to the main road -- which technically he shouldn't have done, but like I said, he was pretty embarrassed by the whole thing -- and I was free to go. Unfortunately, the magistrate's office was on the edge of town, so from there I had a three mile walk to downtown Leesburg, where my brother picked me up.

Anyway, when all was said and done, I was fined $100 and had to pay court costs, and had to jump through a number of hoops to get my license back. (For example, I had to attend a drug and alcohol counseling session with the Virginia Community Action Partnership, and prove I had insurance despite no longer owning a car.) The main lasting effect is that answering questions on job applications about whether I've ever been convicted of a crime is more complicated that it used to be, because I honestly don't know if contempt of court is a crime per se. It's not a felony, and I don't think it's a misdemeanor either. It's more of an administrative violation than anything. I always report it, though, just to be on the safe side.
Tags: halcyon days of yore, virginia: loudoun county

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