The “Art” of Piling on Charges…

So by now, anyone who has read my blog knows that I am a former cop, and anyone who did not know that and may be reading this for the first time, let me explain.  For about two years, I worked at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office in Georgetown, Texas as a law enforcement officer.

My reason for today’s posting is a little bit personal because I just complete a consultation with a client where the charges were "piled on".  Is it legal? Yes.  Is it common? Unfortunately, yes.  Is there anything that I can do about it? Not really, other than just deal with the charges that were filed.

But, I want to take a few minutes to examine why officers take the time to do this.  It is something that I simply did not do, maybe because I was more forgiving than many, but it has always been a practice to me that just seems a bit offensive.

So what is "piling on" as I am referring to it? The art of taking a simple matter and making it more complex by filing multiple, insignificant charges.

What got me to thinking about this matter? Aside from stories I’ve been told by friends over the years, a client meeting that just concluded triggered this response.  I had a potential client come in to discuss a Class A misdemeanor charge that stemmed from the traffic stop, where he was the passenger.  And, despite his cooperation, which was only to his detriment in many ways, he was also cited for two Class C (traffic level offenses).

Practically, this means that the client now has to go to two different courts to resolve the matters, and for an attorney to represent him in all the charges, he or she will have to go to multiple courts and file extra motions, etc.

Wouldn’t it have been easier just to instanter the charges, which means to file them in such a way that they would be dealt with along with the higher degree offense? I think that it would have been easier; however, I sometimes think that officers are trying to be punitive.  That is, they take their job so personally that they want to punish the person being charged, even if it is by making their situation more difficult….

Why?  I still ask that question.  There is no reason for doing it.  In this case, the person was arrested, spent the night in jail until he was released on bond, had his vehicle towed, and now must face the charges in two different courts.

My only rationale for cops "piling on the charges" is to think that it is either 1) a lack of compassion on their behalf, or 2) a true malice and dislike (assumption of guilt) of the person they are charging.  But to close, there is nothing I can say about the matter as it is perfectly legal, but it just seems over the top and too aggressive in my opinion.

We all need to treat others the way we’d like to be treated…