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Woman wrongfully arrested on drug charges had same name as suspect

Police in another state recently arrested a woman who was eight months pregnant on drug trafficking charges. The problem was, the officers apprehended the wrong woman by mistake. It took the woman eight months to convince prosecutors to drop the charges, demonstrating the damage that law enforcement can do to innocent peoples’ lives when an improper arrest occurs.

The woman had just turned into the driveway at her mother’s home when two police cars pulled up behind her back in October. The officers got out of their cars and arrested her on suspicion of conspiring to sell marijuana and oxycodone. They believed that she was another woman of the same name who was the girlfriend of a man with drug crime convictions on his record.

Police arrested the woman based on her name and the fact that she has blonde hair, just like the suspect’s girlfriend, who allegedly drove him to a drug sale in April 2013. The two women’s shared name is fairly common; there are at least 90 women with that name in their area.

When the woman protested that she had never met the man, nobody believed her at first. As part of the terms of her bail, she was required to submit to drug testing twice a week. The arrest also forced her to miss several days of work.

Finally, authorities realized their mistake and dropped the drug charges against the woman. The director of the county drug task force said he made unspecified changes to the task force’s procedures following the wrongful arrest.

Cases like this one are rare, but they do happen. Someone who is the victim of mistaken identity may have to enlist the services of a defense attorney to clear his or her name.

Source: The Medina Gazette, “Mother-to-be arrested by mistake, fights until charges are dismissed,” Nick Glunt, July 26, 2014

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