The dos, don’ts and facts about first-time arrests

Dave Yochum

Nobody ever forgets their first time.

The mood, the place, the setting, the feelings; it’s always a memorable moment.

For sophomore exploratory major Nick Economus, his first time was in Berea near the airport at the ripe age of 18.

“My first arrest was for drinking and then driving,” Economus said. “Once they stopped me and put the cuffs on, that’s when I got real nervous and knew I wasn’t going to have a good night.”

As anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to hide a beer, toss a bag of drugs or drive home intoxicated can tell you, getting arrested for the first time is an unforgettable drama. For those who have suffered an arrest or have been personally introduced to some of Kent’s finest, they know what it’s like for wide-eyed students being taken downtown for the first time. But for those who haven’t yet met with police officers after a wild party night, meet Lt. Michelle Lee.

A veteran of 18 years with the Kent City Police, Lee has seen first-hand all the incredibly stupid things students have done, and consequently, have gotten arrested for.

In her experience, when students make first mistakes in accordance to the law, more often than not, it follows that students make even worse mistakes trying to get out of the trouble they’re already in.

Thankfully, Lee is somewhat sympathetic to the “first-timers” and wishes to advise Kent’s rookie rule-breakers on what they should and should not do when trying to avoid a few common charges or arrests.

According to Lee, the No. 1 mistake students make when the City of Kent Police stop them for a potential violation is thinking they can get away with giving false information.

“Students lie and we can see it coming a mile away,” Lee said. “Trying to make up a date of birth and false information is only going to get you another charge, probably obstruction of justice. False information isn’t even original and only makes our job harder.”

Providing false information often follows getting caught hiding a beer while underage. Lee wants to remind students that trying to conceal or drop a beer before an officer approaches them is almost a lost cause in Kent.

“We know if you dump a beer or try to hide it. Things like that are pretty obvious; we’re not dumb.”

In cases such as marijuana possession, students often have the urge to drop, toss or even run away with the illegal substance for fear of a hefty fine. Lee revealed being cited for possessing relatively small amounts of the popular college drug won’t even send someone to the station, but paraphernalia will.

“Carrying an ounce of marijuana isn’t an arrestable offense, but having pipes to smoke weed out of and other drug paraphernalia will get you arrested,” Lee said. “It sounds strange but it’s the law.”

Bewildered herself by the reasoning behind the law, Lee said, “I don’t know who made up that rule, probably (the) Supreme Court or something, but getting caught for small amounts of that is just a fine.”

Officially, marijuana possession of less than 100 grams is a citable offense only, with a “slap-on-the-wrist” fine of $100. Also, sale or delivery of 20 grams or less, for no remuneration, is considered possession and is punished with a fine of $100.

If students do get fined or arrested, even only once, Lee advises them to look after the fine/arrest and not let that sit there on their record.

“Get it expunged,” Lee said. “Usually after about a year for a misdemeanor, you can apply for your record to be wiped clean at the courthouse where the fine was handed down. A judge will review the request and if approved, your file will be completely clean again.”

Lee offers advice for all of Kent State’s party-going students looking to make their mark on the world, not just their record.

Contact features reporter Dave Yochum at [email protected].