Anyone accused of a crime, is entitled to their day in court. It’s the only way to ensure our legal system works as it should. But what if, you never knew you had a court date? That’s what one man fears is happening to a stranger after he received a summons from the prosecutor’s office.

“I'm buried in legal documents now because I'm going through a divorce,” said Drake Osburn.

Drake said his personal issues have him used to seeing paperwork from the courthouse. But when he opened up his mailbox and saw the prosecutor’s office on the return address, his heart started racing.  

“All I see first is my address and that…saying prosecutor...and I freak out,” he said. “I thought it was for me.”

He poured over what was inside, thinking he was the intended recipient. That’s when he saw, whoever was, was being formally charged with three serious crimes, including vehicular homicide. This paperwork was the notification that the charges were being filed against him.

Drake said that’s when he frantically looked at the envelope again, this time seeing the mistake. The address was right, but the name was wrong.

“It is obviously an egregious error,” he said.

Further investigation showed the man who is being charged, a complete stranger to Drake, had a completely different address listed within the records.

“Maybe the guy knows, maybe he doesn't,” he said. “But the fact is, I have paperwork for him having an arraignment on August 26th.”

Drake says he reached out to our Help Me Hayley in hopes she could get some answers. He said he’s fearful this is potentially not an isolated incident.

“It's a community issue, and Hayley does things to help the community,” he said 

Hayley immediately reached out to prosecutors who say the pandemic has caused a big back log of cases. The rep we spoke to says this one was essentially a ‘victim of COVID-19 as well.” Their office is working to get caught up as quickly and efficiently as possible, sending our many arraignment letters. 

An employee with the prosecutor’s office told KHQ they do a search of address history for any suspect and send documents to each of them that come up. That means both addresses listed in the suspect’s paperwork received this summons. As for how Drake’s address wound up linked to a stranger, he has no idea. He’s lived in his home since 2009 and prior to the letter, had never heard of the suspect.

It is important to note, opening up someone else’s mail is a crime, and a good reminder to make sure you are in fact the intended recipient before opening something. KHQ has tried to reach out to the suspect to ensure he knows about this important court date, but we’ve been unsuccessful. The letter states if he does fail to appear, a warrant will be issue for his arrest.

When asked if this is a problem that has been popping up frequently, the prosecutor’s office said no.