Searching for answers

I live in Licking County, Ohio- and until tonight, I had never heard of a case similar to mine. Dave Johnson, of South Dakota, is currently serving 5 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation, which he received for an "internal possession/cocaine" charge ("South Dakota "Internal Possession" Drug Law Upheld, DWC, Issue #326). South Dakota's Supreme Court (and Ohio's?) has changed the definition of possession to include when "a person knowingly possesses an altered state of a drug or substance absorbed into the human body." Collection of the specimen was an issue in his case because he was coerced under the threat of an invasive medical procedure being performed on him against his will (catheterizantion). My case also involves internal possession, but I gave my sample freely (oh yes). July 5th, of 2006 is my sobriety date, it's also the day that Licking County won't let me live down. I was struggling with drugs and alchohol. I was at my parents home when I had the epiphany that changed my life, I wanted to be sober, and I needed help. Because I was under the influence, and we live about 20 minutes from the nearest hospital, my mother chose to call 911 so that an ambulence would be able to transport me to the ER of the local hospital. Our local drug treatment facility counsels addicts to go to the local ER for pre-admittance toxicology screening and evaluation. Because only volunteers service our area, deputies from the Licking County Sheriffs office responded as well. There was no drama, they came, asked if I wanted to go to the ER and I agreed. I was then transported without incident and spent the next 8 hours in the ER waiting to be admitted to Shepherds Hill (the local rehab). No deputies accompanied us, and there were no other criminal offences (i.e. paraphanalia, public disturbance). After hours of waiting, and one awful conversation with a drug counselor from the clinic I was going to go to, I chose to leave the hospital AMA and seek my own treatment. I detoxed privately at a friends house, and as I said, my sobriety date is 06/05/06, so it's been 3 years and 4 months that show my choice worked for me. However, it didn't work for Licking County. The sheriff who came to our home that day got a warrant for the urine I submitted at the hospital that day. It came back positive for cocaine, so I was indicted in January of 2009 and charged with "Possession/Cocaine" Internal Possession- a fifth degree felony. I was employed, jogging daily, building bridges with my family, attending AA and counseling- and suddenly I was faced with losing all I'd worked for. The discovery showed a mish-mosh of misinformation and even in the sheriffs own account of the day, he states that I was cooperative and there were no other issues. Still, they had my urine, and it was positive, so I was counseled that should I pursue a trial I would be facing at least 6 months in prison. I plead guilty and was placed in Treatment in Lieu of Conviction for a period of 3 years. During that time I successfully completed L.A.P.P. (the head of which recently got a DUI), court ordered counseling (which I had already been undergoing) and countless AA meetings. I've had 3 probation officers because the previous 2 moved on to other positions. The first p.o. was great, she urged me to pursue a degree, which I have been working towards for the last 2 years- each semester, with the exception of the one when my father died, I have gotten a 4.0 (even while working full-time and being a single parent). When she left we had an appointment scheduled that I went to and saw the head of probation who said that as soon as I paid off my fines they would "cut me loose." So I paid them off over my next 2 paychecks. By that time, I had been placed with a new probation officer who wanted to start from scratch. We had monthly appointments, I was randomly drug tested with no positive results, and I towed the line as I had with my first p.o.. Just as she was reducing the visits to once every 3 months (still with the intention of moving off of probation), she found a new job outside of our county. Again I was left without a p.o. for a time. Finally, last fall I received a letter from my new p.o. instructing me to call in for an appointment, which I did. At this time, everything has been completed for about a year, my fines had been paid and there had been no negative incidents. However, once again, another p.o. wanted to start from scratch. Our personalities never clicked. All the same, I tested negative when she had me drop and continued following all the rules. Late last winter my back was badly injured, at the same time, my father (who we lived with) became ill when his cancer came out of remission. He passed in December, and I had major surgery in April. During this time I did have to reschedule some of the appointments I had at probation. I went from intense physical therapy back to being a full-time student in July. At that time, other than leaving a message when my mother changed the phone number (my son and I continue to live with her- almost 3 1/2 years now) I did not contact my p.o. after mid-July. I received a letter on Monday, the 20th of September (written on the 17th) that I needed to call to schedule an appointment with my p.o. Autumn quarter was just beginning and I was still tweaking my schedule and trying to arrange before/after school care for my son. I called her that Friday (the 25th), however, she said she didn't return my call because she had already filed a capias warrant for my arrest on the 22nd. She did state that she got my message letting her know that I'd been in school full-time for the summer, classes were beginning for the fall and I didn't get her letter right away because my mom has a gentleman friend, so my son and I stay with my sister sometimes on the weekend to give them privacy. I was arrested that night (the 25th). I sat in the Licking County Justice Center for the next 11 days without going before a judge or for a bond hearing. All the deputies could tell me was that the probation department usually opts to teach probation violators a lesson by making them sit (sometimes for weeks) before taking them for a bond hearing. I'm only able to attend OSU because of the scholarships that I have worked to secure. In order to keep them I have to keep excellent grades and full-time status. Being in jail for the first 2 weeks of class severely jeopordized the future that I have spent the last 3 years working toward. When we did go to court, I found that she has charged me with not notifying her of a change of address (because I said we occasionally spend the weekend with my sister- we still live here with my mother) and for not contacting her in a timely manner. I'm facing 6 months in prison if I am revoked. I was able to return to school, but honestly, the stress of going to jail and knowing I could go to prison has me in this nervous state of paralysis and I am unable to focus on my studies. Plus, I had to let my professors know why I was not in attendance and not all of them were kind. I'm terrified, and though I try not to stew on negative thoughts, I can't help but think- why? How was my urine able to be subpoened? Why doesn't everyone who goes to the hospital for treatment and leave AMA catch a charge? Why was I able to be left in county without going for a bond hearing? I've seen her twice now since I've been out, and I'm still waiting for the court date to be set. The judge I'm to go before is on vacation until next month, so it'll be a while. I had been hoping to be let off probation (like I was told) so I could have my record expunged and have a better chance of finding a new job (drug possession is the kiss of death in this economy). Now, I'm terrified, and everytime I think "don't worry, just do what you're told and you'll be o.k." I remember I'm in Licking County. So, there's my story. I hope someone reads it. I hope someone has some advice, information, or even a 'hey, that sucks' would be greatly appreciated.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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That does suck, I'm so sorry you are going thru this travesty

I have no advice for you, sorry. I hope you find someone who can help. It's bullshit that they take someone who is being a productive citizen and fuck them over so badly all current productivity, and any chance at future productivity, goes right out the window. This IS a truly fucked up situation.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

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