Intro To Criminal Justice
November 1st 2012
My Time Spent With the Criminal Justice System
My first serious encounter with the criminal justice system happened within
the first two months here at Appalachian State. It was a Saturday night and I was out with some friends at a local fraternity house. Due to peer pressure and the spirit of the night, I decided to partake in the consumption of an alcoholic beverage. Upon doing so, local law enforcement shows up to address a noise complaint. Me being underage, I was breaking the law in front of an officer. The officer quickly came over and reprimanded me, asking for my I.D. After he figured out that I was not of age, I was taken to his car and issued a ticket. When the officer administered me the citation he explained to me the methods to deal with it. The first method being to go the regular route and appear in court to pay the fines and await the verdict. This would be more expensive and would require legal assistance. The other option the officer offered was the method of deferred prosecution, which would result in paying in court costs but avoiding the charge. Since this was my first charge, I was eligible for this method, so I chose it.
One thing I learned about the criminal justice system is that it requires a lot of time, patience, and money. To start I had to make an appointment with the District Attorney so I could begin the deferral process. The DA is a busy man and it was rather hard to find a time to come in, but finally on a free weekday I had the chance to meet with him. After being screened by security, I attempted to navigate the government-building maze. Eventually I reached the DA’s office and he asked me to sit down, then preceded to ask me questions to see if I deserved differed prosecution. After a thorough analysis of my character, the DA granted me my wish and started filling out a form so I could avoid court. However because everything takes a long time to process in the justice system, the next step was after my court date. This meant that I had to appear in court or the system would see failure to appear.
I decided to take this time to observe the judicial system while I waited to for the judge to call me up. In a college town like Boone it isn’t that surprising that the only cases I was seeing were ones much like my own. There were people getting caught under the influence in public and many small marijuana charges. The judge really used the same precedent for each student with similar charges. Nothing too harsh but a lot of time consuming sentences, like drug-awareness classes and community service. Even some with charges serious enough would get probation added to their sentence. The process was very monotonous; you could see it in the judges’