Wednesday, December 26, 2007

OSU Students Prefer To Be Above The Law

The Enquirer prints an AP story that reports that some OSU students who were arrested for underage drinking are upset that they were arrested for committing a crime.

For illegally sipping beer on the morning of an Ohio State University football
game - she's 19 in a state where the legal limit is 21 - [Chelsea] Krueger was
handcuffed, loaded in a police van and hauled off to jail for six hours.

Her sentence, following a guilty plea: a $50 fine.

The article doesn't mention the possible penalties. In Ohio, underage consumption is a first-degree misdemeanor. That means the possibility of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Apparently, Chelsea was upset about the fact that she was locked up with the common riffraff during her quarter-day period of dentention (presumably, the time it took for her to be processed and her spoil-her-rotten parents to post bond):

As prostitutes ran their fingers through Krueger's hair and told her how pretty she was, she couldn't help question her situation. "They're putting the wrong students in jail," said the sophomore from Westchester, N.Y. "The people who should be more harshly punished are the ones putting themselves in dangerous situations."

First of all, the story about the prostitutes running their fingers through Krueger's hair sounds more than a bit apocryphal.

But Chelsea's defense is the one that lots of criminal defendants offer: go catch the "real" criminals. Lawyers and police officers hear it every day. People at traffic stops tell police to go catch people committing more serious offenses. Some people caught possessing drugs (from marijuana to heroin) will say that their crimes are nonviolent, and thus not worthy of prosecution. Some of the prostitutes who touched Chelsea would probably tell you that they're not hurting anyone, and that they just offer a service to men who want to make use of it (and some would claim that they actually save marriages in the process).

The point is: if you break the law, you run the risk of being punished for it. It doesn't matter if you're an indigent defendant caught with less than a gram of crack (for which you could serve twelve months in prison), or a spoiled rich brat from Westchester getting tanked before the Buckeyes game. If you don't want other people (police, prosecutors, and judges) to have the power to alter the course of your life, don't give them that power.

The go-catch-the-real-criminals defense almost never works. And neither does whining.

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