Mar 1, 2013

The Arraignment

A criminal proceeding at which the defendant is officially called before a court of competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged in the complaint, information, indictment, or other charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty.

I stepped off the bus and followed the jail guard, who led me and a handful of other guys to a door in the lower level of the courthouse. We waited silently in handcuffs for the loud click, indicating that the door was unlocked. The guard opened the door and motioned us inside. We were led to a holding area, where we waited for our cases to be called.

I called my girlfriend the previous day after being booked at the jail. I told her I needed a ride from the courthouse to my car, which was still at the school. She told me not to worry, she’d be there. But I didn’t know if my wife would be there or if I would have a chance to speak to her. I didn’t know what to say if I did speak to her. I felt humiliated and embarrassed. My affair had been exposed and now I was facing assault charges.

I worried a little about whether my arrest would affect my job. I spent a lot of time wondering what my kids would think. I knew their mom would tell them what happened. When I turned my heart toward another woman, I never thought it would lead to this.

The guard finally called my name. I got up and followed him to a small room with a TV monitor. He explained that the judge would address me through the monitor and I should answer back through microphone next to it. The process went quickly. The judge read the charge against me and asked me to enter a plea. I pled not guilty. He set a date for a hearing where I would appear in court with an attorney if I chose to hire one. He said that I was being released without bail and that if I failed to appear at the hearing, a warrant would be issued for my arrest. He told me that there were documents I needed to take with me, which included the information about the date and location of the hearing.

I was led from the room, my handcuffs were removed and a guard handed me my personal belongings. He told me I could change in the bathroom. I went in and got dressed. Coming out of the bathroom I was approached by a man who introduced himself as my wife’s attorney. He seemed like a pleasant enough fellow, but I was puzzled about why she would hire an attorney and where she got the money to pay for one.

He explained that my wife had been to court that morning and was granted a no-contact order for a period of one year. For the next year, I would not be allowed to communicate with her in any way except through him. He also informed me that she filed for legal separation. Lastly, he said that I had to move out of my house and that I would be allowed a short visit to the house to gather up a few things. I would need to call the sheriff’s office and arrange to have a deputy meet me at the house.

A wiser man might have seen this coming, but I was caught completely off guard.

“I had to move?
Where was I supposed to go?
What about all my stuff?"

My mind began processing everything. I wondered if I knew anyone with a spare bedroom.

I walked to the lobby of the courtroom and was greeted by my girlfriend. She was dressed to kill, wearing a revealing teal top and short skirt. Her attire was no doubt, a move to further enrage my wife who was also there. We walked to the car and I gave her the low down.

She drove me to the school to pick up my car. On the way, I called a friend who was a bachelor. He lived in a 3 bedroom house on the other side of town. I explained what happened. He was very sympathetic and agreed to let me move in with him. It would be a longer commute to work, but at this point I was just grateful to have a roof over my head.

A few days later I called the Sheriff’s office and arranged to pick up my things. I arrived at my house and waited for the deputy. We talked before we went in. He told me I had to make it quick. I would only be allowed to take the things that were absolutely necessary. I had about 10 minutes.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

"Ten minutes?
Are you kidding me?"

I was furious, but I didn’t have time to waste. I thought quickly about what I needed to live on for the next few months, knowing I couldn’t come back.

I grabbed my uniforms from the bedroom, my laptop computer which she grumbled about. I told the cop I needed it and she had the desktop computer, so he let me take it. I grabbed an overnight bag and stuffed it full of clothes. I grabbed my boots, sneakers and a rain jacket. I made a few trips to and from the car and thought about going in one more time. But I realized I didn’t really need anything else. I just wanted to get away from her.

I told the deputy I was done, got in my car and drove away.

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