This past week I was privy to the circumstances and outcome of a terrible misfortune.  A person was accused of walking out of the local Walmart without paying for $46.60 worth of goods.  According to the accused, the oil that was placed on the bottom of the cart was forgotten as the self-checkout was being executed.  Well, I have been through one of those self-checkout ripoffs, and I can see how one could forget there was something on the bottom of the cart in the process of doing the shopping and then being required to check out the items and bag them as well plus paying for the merchandise and the privilege to be a Walmart employee for those minutes it takes me to check out.  Or wait in the long lines at one of the two open registers run by actual people.  Please, Walmart, let me do it all.  That way perhaps you can lay off a worker or two, or four, or… 

Oh, it’s not just Walmart that wants to scale back on service to the consumer.  Kroger does it, too.  I’m sure there are others somewhere along down the road, but I live in a rural area, and we are limited in our choices in shopping unless we want to drive a ways east or west or north or south.  And it’s not just Walmart that’s greedy and wants to make as much profit as possible.  I am amazed at the difference in the service to the customer now as compared to just a few short years ago.  Did it start with pumping our own gas?

The aforementioned person was arrested upon passing through the front doors, admitted that, no, those items indeed had not been included in the checkout process.  Or maybe deliberately left out.  Who really knows?  There were factors that would lead one to believe that perhaps the items were intentionally forgotten; however, considering the accused also has an addiction to drugs, it is very possible to believe that the items truly were forgotten.

None of that matters.  Deliberately taken or accidentally taken.  The point is it cost $3660 in the court of law for taking that $46.60 worth of goods.

That just seems a little steep to me.  Especially for someone who doesn’t have a pot to piss in, so to speak.  I haven’t seen an addict yet living the high life.

The free attorney was $750.  So, even though you have a right to an attorney, that free one they tell you that you can have may cost you a lot of money when it gets down to the “costs” portion of your fines and costs when you plead guilty.  And you also have to pay a little bit of money to the prosecutor to prosecute you.

The fine for the $46.60 worth of goods was $1500.  The probation fee was $25 a month or, as it was charged right up front, $600.  There was a $570 lump sum surcharge.  I’m not sure either in case you’re asking What the heck is that?!  There were other charges too numerous to outline.  Some for the state police, the clerk, the probation officer, child advocate.  Oh, the list is long.

Rather amazing.

I wondered why would a defendant even sign that?!!  Then I remembered.  A drug-infused brain doesn’t make the best choices nor does it understand all that is taking place.  A person using drugs needs at least six months off of drugs to be able to think correctly.

Now, I do not uphold stealing in any form or fashion.  Nor do I uphold greedy counties and states that want to fill their coffers on the backs of the people who already have nothing.

How can anyone think this is fair or right or conscionable or a just disposition?  It isn’t.  To charge an indigent defendant $750 for the appointed counsel seems indecent.  That’s why the person needs appointed counsel:  indigent, poor, no money, destitute.

Fines and costs are a necessary punishment to those who steal.  Let’s make them appropriate and an amount that has a foreseeable conclusion.  $3660 may as well be a million to an indigent person.

The moral of this story:  Children, do not steal.  Do not do drugs without your own prescription and even then be very, very careful.  Do not drink if you have alcoholism in your family for it is genetic, and you may very well become an alcoholic.  Stay out of Walmart.  (just kidding)

 

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