Skipping court appearance doesn’t pay
Not showing up for your court date is a quick and easy way to make a bad situation worse.
When defendants fail to appear or fail to comply, they forfeit the money they put down for bond and a warrant is generally issued for their arrest.
“It’s something that defendants should want to avoid,” said District Attorney Sherry Caloia.
They normally get caught and brought in anyway.
According to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, most are picked up locally. Some turn themselves in or are contacted at their last known address. A few — generally those who were just passing through at the time of their arrest — do flee to another jurisdiction, and are pursued or extradited in proportion with their crime.
“If you break the law, you break the law, but just like any agency we have to prioritize,” Vallario noted.
Those who stick around generally find it difficult to stay under the radar in a small community, Caloia observed.
It eventually catches up to them,” she said. “Some are caught committing crimes again, some are recognized by law enforcement, some are arrested because they’re with other people who get arrested.”
The second time around they generally aren’t eligible for a personal recognizance bond or have to pay more overall, Caloia said.
Vallario sees his share of repeat offenders.
“Some of these folks unfortunately can’t help but come into law enforcement on a regular basis,” he said.
The sheriff observed that some people view the bond process as discriminatory, since it favors wealthy suspects who can pay to be released. He favors local and national trends toward more evidence-based pretrial risk assessment, which seek to keep flight risks in jail and release those who are unlikely to skip town.
“The idea of incarcerating someone is really because they’re dangerous or they’re likely to reoffend,” he observed. “It’s not punishment in this phase.”
In an effort to catch up with court renegades, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office maintains a wanted list online at http://www.garcosheriff.com/wanted.html.
“The intent is to generate interest in the public,” Vallario explained. “It’s not like the FBI 10 most wanted, it’s people we’ve arrested that haven’t complied with the court structure. We’re using that tool to get them back in front of the judge.”
The page was down for maintenance Friday, but the three most recent felony cases are Edward Neil Bugay, 54, of Silt; Mary Irene Fears, 38, of Glenwood; and Hevert Salazar-Aguilar aka “Euver,” 21, of Glenwood. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 970-945-0453 or send an email to email@example.com.
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Visual Journalist Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or firstname.lastname@example.org