Public Defenders and the Question of the Day

Here’s a conundrum: I believe that parents should be responsible for most of their child’s actions, to a point; I believe that crime victims should not be penalized for being a victim. How in the world can this be resolved when the parent is the victim?

Take a kid who has been “raised right”, had many advantages in his life, and still persists in pushing the envelope; this kid lands in detention because he hit someone and assault charges were filed.

Now, typically, the parents could and maybe should be held responsible for paying, in dollars, for this kid’s mistakes. It depends, really, on prior circumstances – if the parents have raised the kid to be accountable and responsible and do the right things, then, well, you still have to look at the fact that the kid is an individual and capable of making his own decisions. This is, after all, what landed him in detention.

The judge would not order the victim to pay for the kid’s public defender, right? In fact, in most cases, the kid will be ordered to pay into the Victim Restitution Fund, at least a token amount.

This particular kid was indeed ordered to pay restitution; his parents were also billed for his public defender. Responsible parents, as in this case, will make the kid pay for his own defense. Because in this case, the victim was a parent.

Yes, folks, the parents received a bill from the public defender’s office. Talk about passing the buck (no pun intended): the clerk of the court directed the parents to the public defender’s office. The PD office had no clue that Division 16 was a part of the 21st Circuit; the parents were directed to the office of the PD who handled the case, and the mailbox was full. The parents were then given another number to call, which was also too busy to take the call, but was the wrong number anyway.

And for all this, they were billed $200.

Ironically, initially the parents were told that the kid didn’t qualify for a PD and that the fee for the attorney to be used was $150. Then it was discovered that the victim was a parent, so the PD office was contacted – to bill a greater amount.

And what, you ask, was received for this $200? The PD met once with the kid and the parents and read a short, one-page report from the detention folks; she attended a brief hearing and misquoted the report. Three weeks later, she arrived late to court, met with the kid for a few minutes, and perhaps advised him as to his options. At the hearing, she asked the judge to not impose restitution or community service.

That was it. Hardly worth $200. Or $150. So, note to parents, if you try everything possible to get your kids in line, or keep them in line, if you call the police many, many times for assistance with this and when you are in fear of your own child, if the case manager determines that, because you’ve tried everything possible, your child should remain in detention for three weeks – the courts will still make you pay. Perhaps because it’s still “your” fault. No matter if you are the victim as well.


2 comments on “Public Defenders and the Question of the Day

  1. Mike says:

    The PD is not supposed to bill parents when they are the victims. They made a mistake; you should contact the main office in Jefferson City.


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