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» Government Rants, Practice in General » Is Gilbert The New Castle Rock?

Is Gilbert The New Castle Rock?

I recently had a change of plea for a DUI in Gilbert where I started to feel like I was in a Stephen King novel. Gilbert has several policies that seem extreme even in Maricopa County. Matt has previously pointed out Gilbert’s policy for vehicles impound in a previous post, so I’ll concentrate on two other aspects that irk me.

First, the plea deal stipulates to five years of probation. In my opinion that is simply absurd. Why in the world does a first time offender need a probation period of 60 months? The judge was gracious enough to modify the terms so probation terminates upon completion of certain alcohol classes. An individual unlucky enough to get stuck with the full five years might be dragged back in front of a Gilbert court half a decade down the road and face jail time up to 179 days if he or she gets charged with a new crime or some probation violation (like consuming alcohol or disorderly conduct). It seems like a policy designed solely to keep the government in people’s hair as long as possible. Some people probably need a long probation period; first time misdemeanor offenders aren’t those people.

Second, the judge, who I thought was very cordial and pleasant to deal with, instructed my client that he would have to provide proof of a loan denial from a bank in writing within four weeks in order to qualify for a payment plan. Otherwise, the entire fine would be due. I’ve never heard of a court having such a requirement. When I asked if this was a new policy in Gilbert, the judge said that the previous presiding judge had instituted the rule and that it remained in effect. I think the judge actually felt bad about the policy, and I can see why. Not only does this mean the client now has to take more days off work to go to a bank, apply for a loan, and go back to the courthouse instead of simply being placed on a payment program the day he pleads guilty, but it also means Gilbert is requiring people to get a credit denial in order to qualify for payment programs. Maybe Gilbert wants to help out the payday loan business? Maybe they think a reduced credit score is proper punishment for a DUI? I know that someone pleading to a DUI isn’t the best poster child for empathy, but does Gilbert feed off of human misery? Perhaps I took this one a bit personal since I detest pleading out drug metabolite DUIs when I feel the client wasn’t impaired at the time of driving.

My client accepted the plea because it reduced his license suspension by almost a year and guaranteed minimum jail time and fines, etc. I feel he is satisfied, but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder as I left the building to see if some dark, brooding storm cloud hovered over the courthouse.

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