My wife lost the use of her left eye, which meant I was facing a felony charge for Assault in the Second Degree. I got a public defender, who convinced me to plead guilty and accept responsibility. This would get me a minimum sentence of two years, versus the five to seven years I’d probably get if I fought the charges.
The time from my arrest until my conviction was nine months. I hadn’t bothered to post bail. I’d lost my job, lost my family, and had no savings to pay bail anyway. What was the point? My mom wanted to help me post bail, but I wouldn’t let her. These nine months counted towards time served, which would let me put this whole incident behind me even faster.
My wife divorced me while I was in prison. I tried to fight it, but I didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. She got full custody of the kids, and I was ordered to pay child support. As part of my assault sentence, I also had to pay $15,000 in restitution for her injury. This is the legal maximum. Her injury cost her far more than that, but it was the most the courts could order me to pay. My mom covered the bill, and I’m still paying her back.
I stayed sober in prison. Not because I had to. Anyone who’s ever been inside will tell you drugs and alcohol are easy enough to get your hands on. But I stayed sober because I wanted to get out as soon as possible and fight to get my daughters back. I was what we alcoholics call a dry drunk. I was sober, but I still hadn’t accepted responsibility for what I’d done. I deluded myself into thinking that if I just stopped drinking, everything else in my life would magically fix itself. I hadn’t accepted that my entire attitude needed to change.
I was a convicted felon, so I knew it would be hard to find work when I got released. I decided to start my own business and took a class on bookkeeping. I also started attending services at the prison chapel, not because I was particularly religious but because I figured the prison chapel was the best time to meet guys who were sober.
My time in prison was honestly pretty boring. I played a lot of basketball, a lot of chess, and did my best not to get on the guards’ bad side. In the end, I earned a conditional release after serving sixteen months of my sentence.
When I got out, I moved to my Abuela’s. I had nowhere else to go, and it was only then that I really understood how serious things were. My wife and daughters were gone, and no-one in her family wanted anything to do with me. I was alone.