There are too many aspects of the American criminal justice system that are broken. A great example of how broken is the story of Donyelle Hall from Baltimore.

On Christmas day in 2013, Mrs. Hall was stopped for speeding, failed a breathalyzer, and charged with drunken driving. For many first-time drunken-driving defendants in Maryland, penalties vary. A typical sentence for a first time drunk driving offense might be a year of unsupervised probation. Many judges will offer what in Maryland is called “probation before judgment”. In Mrs. Hall’s case, she had never been in trouble with the law, had nothing in her past to suggest there was evidence of alcoholism, and so she was assured this case was minor as it was her first offense.

The next 18 months for Mrs. Hall proved that would not be the case. Her misdemeanor arrest, and the offer of probation to avoid jail time seemed like a good idea for her and her defense attorney at the time. Her case is not one that would normally attract the attention that it has, but the unusually strict and inappropriate probation violations that it created for Mrs. Hall shows how probation can severely disrupt a working class person and the injustice of the criminal justice system.

Over those next 18 months, Mrs. Hall would find herself in trouble with the law again, and again without having committed any new crimes. The judge assigned to Mrs. Hall’s case seemed set on making an example out of her. She was sentenced to 18 months supervised probation, costing her $105 a month in fees, 26 weeks of alcohol education at $70 a week, and three Alcohol Anonymous meetings a week. Mrs. Hall also had her license suspended for 14 days which made it difficult to get to work 20 miles away. The judge imposed conditions far harsher than the norm, and then repeatedly called Mrs. Hall back into court for violations, like failing to ask permission before moving to a different unit in her apartment complex. Mrs. Hall spent countless hours attending court and lost thousands of dollars in court fees, legal fees, as well as the loss of her job.

Read Donyelle Hall’s story here. (Image used in this post was from the same New York Times story)

The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.