CZH, 19 years old and a student at Indian River State College, along with his girlfriend, A.K., went for a drive to go shopping in Martin County, Florida on May 19 of 2009. The nightmarish scene that followed, some would argue, could only occur in the 19th Judicial Circuit, where overzealous and aggressive law enforcement unfortunately is the “norm”.
While stopped at a stoplight, joking with A.K., she jumped from the car, giggling as she did so. CZH, who was driving, left the vehicle and pursued her; ultimately picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder, then carrying her back to the car. They were both happy and frolicking at the time, and traffic was in no way disrupted by the young people’s tomfoolery.
Little did they know that an elderly interloper had observed and misinterpreted the scene, thinking wrongfully that she had observed some sort of “kidnaping”. As a result of her assuming the worst about people, she called 911 and began following CZH and A.K. back to CZH’s home. As the two college students got out of their car, the nosy troublemaker confronted them, at which time CZH told the old busybody, “mind your own business”. He then turned and went into his home with his girl.
Approximately seven (7) minutes later, overzealous cops from the Port St. Lucie Police Department, which is known for overreacting, both legally and illegally, during citizen encounters, arrived on the scene. They approached the house and told CZH they wanted to speak with him. CZH, believing in the Constitutional rights that all Americans cherish, told the law enforcement representatives that they had no right to come into his house, and he had no intention of speaking with them.
The youthful, over-aggressive police promptly kicked the front door in, threw CZH to the ground, and arrested him—-unbelievably charging him with “kidnaping” (a 1st degree felony punishable by Life Imprisonment in Florida; “false imprisonment” (a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison); “resisting an officer without violence” (a 1st degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail), and “battery” (also a 1st degree misdemeanor). The bond in his case was set at a total of $46,500.00, which had to be posted before CZH could be released from jail.
Law enforcement’s overreaction in this case was clearly not only excessive; but illegal. They entered CZH’s house without an arrest warrant signed by a Judge. And had they attempted to act lawfully, by showing a Judge the facts known to them, no Judge would have issued the warrant.
CZH’s mother contacted Fort Pierce Criminal Lawyer Jay Kirschner, Esq., who immediately contacted the Assistant State Attorney prosecuting the case, and advised him of the facts surrounding CZH’s arrest. Instead of the state formally filing on the charges that law enforcement alleged against CZH, the felony charges, as well as the battery charge, were dismissed. Solely the count of “Resisting Arrest Without Violence” was refiled in the County Court.
On October 22, 2009, in order to avoid the costs and risks attendant with a trial, CZH entered a ” nocontest” plea to the misdemeanor. (A “no contest” plea does not ‘admit’ that the Defendant has done anything wrong or illegal. The Court issued a fine, and withheld adjudication of guilt, meaning that CZH now has the ability to have his record sealed, and ultimately “expunged”, (i.e., erased) under Florida law.
CZH has not been convicted of any crime, and if he pursues an action to seal his record, he will be able to deny the fact that he has ever been arrested. Not a bad result for someone who, six (6) months earlier, had been facing a possible life sentence in prison.