Woman With Marijuana Crumbs on Face Suspected of Eating Evidence
According to a Palm Beach Post article, a Florida woman, who had been arrested for suspicion of DUI, was handcuffed and seated in the police cruiser when marijuana evidence that had been found in the woman’s car disappeared from the police cruiser. The officer is quoted as saying “bags of weed just don’t go missing inside a police car.” The officer used his investigative skills and deductive reasoning to realize that if he didn’t take the marijuana, then the woman handcuffed in the back of his cruiser must have. He questioned the woman about whether or not she had escaped from her cuffs and had eaten the drug evidence, and she admitted to having broken free from her restraints. The article also mentions that the woman had pot on her face and hands, so the weed crumbs provided additional evidence about the disappearance of the marijuana. I’m sure that most of us have seen milk mustaches and cookie crumbs on the faces of our children, but I doubt that we have witnessed marijuana crumbs on someone’s face.
Finally, it also didn’t help the woman that she was caught on camera because the police cruiser had video surveillance covering the backseat of the car. The verbal admission, weed residue, and video evidence are giving the prosecution a very good case to prosecute for the destruction of evidence.
Making Things Worse – Destruction of Evidence
I have been involved in many State College cases in which people have gotten themselves into some trouble with the police, and they do additional things to get themselves into more trouble. Underage Drinkers often lie to the police about their ages and dates of birth, name, and some even provide the police with a Fake ID card. The case escalates from a summary offense of Underage Drinking to a misdemeanor charge of False Identification to Law Enforcement or Possession of a False Identification Card. In DUI situations, some people get the idea to try to get away from the police while driving. A misdemeanor drunk driving case thereby increases to a felony case of Fleeing and Eluding police.
When a person is dealing with the police, they need to comply with police orders, such as to stop. The person must also answer general questions to allow the officer to identify the person, such as name and date of birth, but the person does not need to answer any other questions. The person should be respectful and honest with the officer, but I want to emphasize again that the person should not be answering most questions posed by the officer. When the officer asks the underage drinker if he or she had been drinking, do not lie to the officer. The strong odor of alcohol coming from the person’s breath, slurred speech, and swaying while standing give it away. The officer knows that you were drinking. Simply tell the officer that you do not want to answer questions.
You should not tell the officer that you have a 4th Amendment right to refuse to answer questions. First, the right against self-incrimination is the 5th Amendment, so you look stupid by trying to sound smart and getting it wrong. Second, when you tell the officer about your rights and what the officer can and cannot do, you escalate the interaction to a whole other level. Most people do not like to be told how to do their job. When you tell the officer what he or she is doing wrong, it is generally not taken well. The adage “keep it simple stupid” is appropriate. All you have to do is tell the officer that you do not wish to answer any other questions until you talk to an attorney.
Criminal Charges in Florida Case
In the case referenced at the beginning, the woman’s actions turned a relatively routine misdemeanor DUI and marijuana possession case into a felony destruction of evidence case. Had this happened in Pennsylvania, the Tampering With Evidence charge would only have been another misdemeanor, but it would have added an additional punishment. Somewhat ironically, the article states that the woman actually works for a judge. While the woman was honest with officer, I still fear that her actions may cause the judge to look for another employee.