Mistaken Identity – Lucky Whitehead Lucks Out

The Dallas Cowboys cut wide receiver Lucky Whitehead last week after discovering that he had been arrested for shoplifting and then failed to appear in court in Virginia…

Except he was never arrested for shoplifting in Virginia. Police later confirmed that this was a case of mistaken identity. The real culprit had provided them with Whitehead’s name, date of birth, and social security number. Even after discovering that the Virginia police had the wrong guy, the Cowboys still refused to re-instate Whitehead.

Can Someone Use My Name When They are Arrested?

Ordinarily, no. In most cases, even someone who provides another person’s ID, date of birth, or social security number will be caught by the fingerprinting process. But, if there is no fingerprint on file, police may have no other option than to book the person under the information provided. I have seen several cases of mistaken identity in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina similar to what happened to Whitehead in Virginia.

In some cases, a person who has been arrested may provide non-public identifying information like what happened in Whitehead’s case. In other cases, a person may have stolen a driver’s license or other ID of a sibling or another person that looks like them. Unless there is an obvious difference in appearance, police have no reason to question an otherwise valid identification card. When the suspect is released, they disappear, do not appear for their court date, and their unsuspecting doppelganger is left holding the bag when a fugitive warrant is issued for failure to appear.

What Should I do if There are Warrants for My Arrest and It Wasn’t Me?

If you have received notice that you have a fugitive warrant for charges that you did not know about in South Carolina, you should immediately contact a defense lawyer to help get the issue resolved. If you are picked up in another state on a fugitive warrant, you could spend weeks in jail before you are transported to the county of arrest in South Carolina. Even if you are picked up in South Carolina, the court will most likely set a bond and provide you a court date to return. If you are accused of having missed a court date already, the court may deny bond and you will wait in jail until the issue is sorted out. Most police and courts will not believe you initially, and you will have to provide evidence of the mistake before your name can be cleared.

On the other hand, if you are the person who provided false information to the police and left someone else holding the bag, you also should contact a South Carolina defense attorney who can help you to clear the air and minimize the damage both to yourself and the person whose name you provided. Warrants issued in cases of mistaken identity can lead to irreparable damage to reputation, loss of employment, and an innocent person’s incarceration. The unintended consequences to a person’s life and family can be catastrophic, and it will need to be cleared up as quickly as possible. If you are the true suspect who provided a false identity, the consequences will likely be more severe if you do not come forward quickly.

In Lucky’s case, he was picked up the same week by the New York Jets and now opens a new chapter of his life with a new football team. Not everyone is so lucky…


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