ROCKINGHAM — A Richmond County woman has been jailed on misdemeanor charges three times within the past month.
Records show 54-year-old Irene Hutchinson was arrested Sunday and charged with resisting a public officer and assault on a government employee and is currently being held under a $2,500 secured bond.
She had just been released from jail on Thursday after being arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing on April 16.
According to a warrant, Hutchinson refused to leave the Speedway gas station on E. Broad Avenue after being told not to enter or remain on the premises.
In that case, she was given a $100 secured bond. Assistant District Attorney Patrick McCrary agreed on April 25 to modify it to an unsecured bond.
Her first jail stay was from March 30-April 11 when she was charged with second-degree trespassing and resisting a public officer.
Hutchinson remained on a Leak Street property after being told to leave by the property owner and Rockingham Police officers, according to a magistrate’s order. She is also accused of pulling away from the officer when he attempted to place her in handcuffs.
She was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond in that case.
In a motion questioning Hutchinson’s ability to proceed, filed April 11, attorney David McGuire wrote: “Defendant appears to be unable to understand basic questions about the nature of the charges or the consequences of a plea or conviction.”
He added: “The attorney appointment document makes reference to Defendant’s suspected diminished mental capacity.”
The order or of assignment or denial of counsel notes McGuire was appointed “outright in open court due to her mental incapabilities.”
Another document, also dated April 11, notes that Hutchinson refused to come before the camera.
District Court Judge Chevonne Wallace signed off on McGuire’s motion, which noted that Hutchinson was to be evaluated by Daymark Recovery Services.
Her next court appearances are scheduled for May 2 and 30.
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Although records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction show no prior convictions, court records tell a different story.
Hutchinson has multiple misdemeanor convictions dating back 30 years.
She has been convicted of defrauding an innkeeper in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Richmond counties and has convictions of disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer in Cumberland and Randolph counties, respectively.
In 2001, she was convicted of hiring with the intent to defraud in Mecklenburg County.
Other convictions in Richmond County include defrauding a taxi driver, first- and second-degree trespassing, misdemeanor larceny, being intoxicated and disruptive and indecent exposure.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has a Jail Diversion program that provides “alternatives to incarceration to people who are arrested and jailed as a result of behaviors caused by their mental illness.”
According to DHHS, such programs are designed to help those who:
- have a serious mental illness;
- are in jail on a minor charge;
- are willing to agree to receive treatment for their mental illness;
- would not be a risk to the public, if they were released from jail
A report released in January by Parity Track shows that one in five North Carolina adults have a mental illness and that more than one in seven of those are uninsured.
That same report card gives the state an “F” in how it enacts and enforces the federal parity law, which “requires insurers to cover illnesses of the brain, such as depression or
addiction, no more restrictively than illnesses of the body, such as diabetes or cancer.”