A woman who owed court fees in a 2010 case related to the sale of $31 worth of cannabis has finally been released from the Oklahoma County jail and freed from further financial obligations in the case.
The young Oklahoma mother, Patricia Spottedcrow, made headlines in 2010 when she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the sale of a $31 bag of marijuana to a police informant in December 2009.
Her sentence caught a lot of attention because it was her first-ever offence and that earned her supporters who advocated for a decrease in her sentence.
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Spottedcrow was 25 when a Kingfisher County judge sentenced her for a first offence of distribution of cannabis and ordered her to serve a two-year concurrent term for drug possession after a jailer found cannabis in her jacket pocket following her sentencing hearing.
Spottedcrow, with four children at the time, pleaded guilty without a sentencing recommendation from a prosecutor.
Spottedcrow’s mother, Delita Starr, was also accused of drug crimes in the 2009 incident and handed a 30-year suspended sentence by a judge. She became the caregiver of Spottedcrow’s children while her daughter was in prison.
During a 2011 judicial review, a different judge modified her sentence to eight years and she left prison in November 2012 following the parole recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
Much later in June 2018, Spottedcrow received a six-month jail term in Kingfisher County after an associate District Judge, Robert Davis, partially revoked her suspended sentence. He noted that Spottedcrow admitted drinking beer and missed at least one meeting with her probation officer.
Judge Davis also approved the cost-collection bench warrant in August 2018, writing in a court minute that “defendant failed to pay fines and costs.”
Court records indicated that it was the sixth bench warrant authorized since 2014 in Spottedcrow’s case, and the clerk’s office recorded mailing her more than a dozen notices of late payments during the same time period.
Meanwhile, the court levies a $10 charge on defendants each time a late payment notice is mailed, which occurs 10 days after the payment due date. If within 10 days of serving a notice, payment is not made, a bench warrant can be issued, costing defendants an additional $80.
Spottedcrow had signed an agreement in 2013 to pay $50 per month on a total balance of $3,921.97. In May 2018, a week after a two-day jail stint following a missed court date, Spottedcrow wrote a letter to Davis asking for more time to “get my affairs in order” ahead of a hearing on revocation of her suspended sentence. She hinted at financial troubles due to caring for her children, according to tulsaworld.com.
Even though she was home and free, she still struggled to pay the money she owed in court fees, since her offence conviction made it difficult to find a job. Notices about overdue payments piled up, with late fees accumulating on top of the original fines.
The 34-year-old was arrested again last Monday on a bench warrant that required her to stay in jail until she could come up with $1,139.90 in overdue fees, which she didn’t have.
After spending two days in jail on a cost-collection bench warrant that said she owed Kingfisher County $1,139.90 in overdue payments, Spottedcrow was released.
According to Kingfisher County cost administrator Lindsey Weaver, seven people paid the office enough money to satisfy that amount and the rest of Spottedcrow’s outstanding debt.
“Her balance is zero.” “People just ended up paying her entire balance off, so she doesn’t have to pay any more,” Weaver said.
Thanks to the citizens who contributed the $1,139.90 needed to secure Spottedcrow’s release from jail, she can now unite with her family and live peacefully without the fear of debt and no further business with the court system on any case.