I learned my lesson after the my trip to the courthouse earlier this month; I made sure to set multiple alarms, got up in plenty of time for both coffee and a shower, and was out of the house a full half an hour before my court appointment. Despite all of this, I failed to forsee the possibility that the courthouse would be participating in an evacution drill that morning, and that all of the surrounding parking garages would be full. After frantically circling downtown for 20 minutes, I found a meter, threw in all of my loose change and prayed that I would have a chance to come back out to refill the meter sometime in the next hour and a half.
After checking in with the bailiff, I was told by the prosecutor that they would be offering me a plea bargain: plead guilty to the dog registration violation, and they would drop the rabies quarantine charge and recommend a sentance of $40 on the other charge. At this point, I was just tired to making the trip back downtown every two weeks, so I agreed. It seemed like $40 was a victory over the original $140 penalty.
So when my name was called, I stepped before the judge and declared my guilt to the entire world. A few short minutes later, I filled out a little paperwork and was sent to the clerk of courts office to pay my debt to society. It turns out there was a caveat to my $40 penalty... "plus court costs." In my case, court costs came out to $102. Perhaps you've done the math already, and figured out that I actually ended up paying more by agreeing to this wonderful plea bargain. But on the plus side, I don't have to go back in for another hearing, and I got one of the charged dropped.
In the end, I'm $142 lighter, but a little more aware of how our court system works. ?