My Sister April was sentenced to 22 months in a Texas state prison on Sept. 24th. Essentially her punishment stems from being too poor to pay fines and fees, hire decent representation, live correctly on probation, or be bailed out. All of her charges were non-violent, marijuana and probation related “crimes”. She has a 14-year-old son who just started 8th grade, and her fiancé, Bruce, has stage three colon cancer. He has no family to help him and April was the only one taking him to chemotherapy. Bruce showed up in court to help her beg for mercy and when they sentenced her, he got emotional and cursed expletives stating his opinion that justice wasn’t being served. They asked him to leave the courtroom, which he did willingly, and then arrested him in the hallway. He sat all day in the detention center with no paperwork filed, or word of what he had been charged with. He had a chemo appointment that day. He had to reschedule to appear in court for April.
I am asking for money to help to hire a lawyer in the state of Texas that can represent April as she faces additional charges**, getting a sentence appeal***, bailing out Bruce out* & hiring someone to drive him to and from chemo. In addition, I have spent almost 500$ to date on phone calls from her in the prison as they charge more than a call to Belgium I hate having to ask for this help, as I know money is tight everywhere, but my family and I have not been able to come up with enough to pay for decent representation and we are at a loss.
UPDATE 10/8***: Apparently no sentence appeal is allowed for this charge, due to the fact that she accepted a plea bargain. April wanted to be reinstated (put back on probation) which is why she went to court to beg for mercy. The judge didn't care and even gave her more time than the original offer. Her bench warrant to move her back to a county jail is supposed go through in the next couple of weeks. Then her son and family can visit her(hopefully).
UPDATE 10/1**: I borrowed some money and hired a good lawyer to help April with the additional marijuana charge, but a little too late, so we are playing the waiting game. She got moved to a Texas state prison 150 miles away from her family, and when the lawyers obtained a bench warrant to bring her back and deal with the matter, the state prison said "they wanted to wait a few weeks to let her settle in." She is not allowed phone calls or visitors and is in prison with violent crime offenders. My stomach is in knots thinking of what she is going through.
UPDATE 9/26: *Good News-Bruce was released
Bad News- It seems April has a 1K fine on top of the 22 months
You can read below the details of what has happened, and how we got to this point(the short version), or if you see me I am happy to tell you the story first hand. Any amount you can contribute is greatly appreciated.
One July 3rd she was riding in a car with her fiancé, as he drove them to the Wal-Mart to get groceries when he was pulled over in the middle of the day with no reason given. She was asked to give ID as well and when she didn't give them an ID (because she doesn't have one) they handcuffed her and put her in the back of a cop car. After 20 minutes of threats from the cops, they gave them her real name. The cops ran it, and found an old warrant for marijuana possession and tampering with a government document (community service form) and took her to Palo Pinto county jail where she has been since, awaiting her court date.
She has been told she has additional misdemeanor charges in another county for probation violations (not showing up, when she was misinformed and told to call-in).
Her court appointed lawyer (a joke) told me not to bail her out of Palo Pinto county as the D.A. was offering her 180 days and her court date was Sept. 24th at which point she would have served 175 days. "Not worth the money", he said. I wasn’t sure about that so after speaking to some referred decent representation, and getting a price tag, I took it back to my sister to see if we could make it work. After speaking with her, and her public defender, we decided she would just ride out the 180 days and be done with it. She would be out, and all would be behind her.
A week later her fiancé found out his colon cancer came out of remission. They decided to start his chemo again the week after her court date as she was expected to be released.
THEN, on Sept. 18th (4 business days before her court date) her public defender came to visit her (for the 2nd time in 3 months). He told her he "read the paperwork wrong and the D.A. was offering her 18 months, not 180 days". I frantically called the referred lawyers back, however due to the lack of time until court, and lawyers in trials on the 24th, I was not able to get anyone to help her.
I called the public defender and when he basically told me there was nothing he could do, I told him his mistake has changed someone's life dramatically. He then hung up on me.
Now we are here. I will be updating this story as it unfolds further. Please let me know if you have any questions and thank you so much for any help.
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