This is the second post in a series – a firsthand account from a local high school student who began a journey with drugs and alcohol never thinking the man behind bars could be him. The author Alex and he shared his personal journey with Robby’s Voice. Often getting caught feels like the worst thing in the world, but it can bring acceptance and change. We ended the first post when Alex was arrested. Here is more of his story.
What was it like going to court?
It was very intimidating going to court for the first time. The whole time that I was there I felt like I really didn’t belong. Being an 18-year-old who thought of himself as being a pretty good kid, I was not in my element. The thing that I didn’t really comprehend at the time was that I did belong exactly where I was in juvenile court. I broke the law. I broke the law many times actually, I just happened to finally get caught. Court was a very intimidating experience walking into a massive yellow building, which has a juvenile detention center that is connected to the back.
When I first laid eyes on the barb-wired fences, the severity of my offense really hit me. I thought to myself, “I could end up behind those fences and all of the barb-wire. I would be a convict.” The thought of that happening to me made me shake with nervousness as I walked into the juvenile court building for the first time. The thing that made me most upset about the whole ordeal is that both of my parents had to be there with me. I had already let them down. Now they had to both take time off of work to sit in a courtroom as a judge read the charges that were against me. I had no idea what to expect court to be like, but when you are in that room, the focus is exclusively on you. No one in that courtroom knew the content of my character, with the exception to my parents and attorney. They only knew me based off of the paper that included all of my charges. I was guilty. I had an uphill battle to try to prevent me from ending up in detention. It was terrifying to say the least. I put myself in that situation, now I had to work hard to make sure that I never ended up in front of a judge again.
As I understand it, you didn’t adhere to the program first time. Why?
I wish I could explain why I didn’t adhere to the program the first time because things would be so much easier for me. I was given a second chance by the Diversion Program. The outline of the program was that I needed to pass random drug screenings for a full year, attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and provide a summary on each meeting that I attended. I would technically have been on probation for a year, but my record would be completely clean at the time of completion of this program. Again, I found myself unable to abide by the guidelines set forth by the law. I was terminated from the Diversion Program when I failed a random drug screening in January of 2014. I don’t know what it was that prompted me to continue smoking marijuana, but I suffered the consequences, yet again.
Maybe I just didn’t take my punishment seriously. I recall thinking that if I smoked for 2 weeks after I took a drug test, which would give me enough time in between drug tests to get clean. I was sadly mistaken. I guess I thought I could squeak by. The first time that I had to go to court, it was actually at city hall in North Olmsted. I had been there many times before for random things so I don’t think that it struck a chord with me as much as it should have. I also didn’t fully realize the gravity of the situation I was in. I didn’t really think of how detrimental the charges were against me to my future. It wasn’t until I read the letter from the director of the Diversion Program for North Olmsted that I realized I had dug myself an even deeper hole. They say that two wrongs don’t make a right, but that is exactly the situation I am in. They also say that there are no second chances, but I am lucky enough to have a second chance through my own hard work and the hard work of my attorney.
How do you feel knowing that at your age, you have a lawyer and a court record?
I am absolutely disappointed in myself that at the moment, I have an attorney that is fighting for me so that I don’t end up in detention or jail at 19 years old. It is also very depressing to think that I already have a court record. The whole purpose that I am going to college is to get a good education so that I can find a good-paying job after I get my degree. Having a court record may be the difference in whether or not I get a job in the future. That may be the deciding factor between myself and another candidate that is trying to get the same job as me. This scares me to the point where I want to do everything in my power to get all of the charges against me thrown out.
It is unfortunate that I am in this situation but in the end I have to realize that I put myself here. Another feeling that I get when I think of the fact that I have a court record is of extreme discouragement. Sometimes I feel like I want to give up and that I won’t complete everything I need to do for the court, but then a little voice in my head tells me, “Imagine how you will feel once this is all over?” The thought that I still have the opportunity to abolish all of the charges against me so that I can focus on school and hockey entirely keeps me motivated every day.
In the next post, we’ll learn more about how Alex thinks about his future today and what it meant to do service with Robby’s Voice. There’s a lot to learn here from Alex. I hope he knows how much his experience can, and is helping others.