Maybe that’s why they were arresting him because it is kind of ignorant to be a painter without a sign. So, what have I been preaching? The judges are finally speaking out. 52,560 victimless “crime” arrests, aka, “quality of life” misdemeanors over the last four years in Miami are dismissed by the court. Here is the story:
Miami house painter Alexis Marichal was driving his work truck when police pulled him over, placed him under arrest and sent him to jail for a night.
His crime: not having a business sign on the side of the vehicle.
In court later, the judge dismissed the charge after Marichal proved he had purchased the sign and was a legitimate painter.
“I told [the police officer] that I’m not a delinquent, that I’m a hard-working man,” said Marichal, 34. “I told him, `How many people and kids are being raped and how many women are beaten, and I’m being arrested?’ ”
Some high-ranking judges and county commissioners are asking the same thing.
With criminal-justice resources being squeezed more every day, the county is studying whether to decriminalize 18 minor infractions like the one that netted Marichal. They include selling flowers by the side of the road, drinking beer near a liquor store and being in a park after hours — all seemingly minor misdeeds, yet all on the books as crimes punishable by jail time.
Judges say the county ordinances clog court dockets and jail cells with little benefit, but police argue they are important for preventing more serious crime. A report is due to the County Commission this month.
“We’re being forced to operate almost like a factory,” Miami-Dade Chief County Judge Samuel Slom told a County Commission committee. “We are handling cases that have no business being in a criminal courthouse.”
Since 2005, police in Miami-Dade County have charged 52,560 people with such “quality of life” misdemeanors. All were processed through the county’s overtaxed court system — where the vast majority saw their charges dismissed.
Records from 2005 to early August 2009 show that more than 40,000 cases of commercial vehicle sign violations, drinking within 100 feet of a liquor store and roadside vending were filed. Yet about 93 percent of the charges were dismissed by a judge or dropped by prosecutors, and only about 7 percent resulted in convictions or withholds of adjudication. Amazing.