wife arrested for "obstructing justice" for telling husband not to call police on her

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I was talking to a woman and she told me this story. She said police arrested her for throwing an apple at her husband.

    She and her husband had gotten into an argument, and she threw an apple at him.
    He said he was going to call the police.
    She said told him "No, no, don't call the police" and kept telling him not to call the police.
    He called the police anyway.

    When the police arrived they separated the husband and wife into different rooms. First they interviewed the husband. (The wife could pretty much hear most everything being said, it only lasted a few minutes)

    Then they went to interview the wife. She was in a very angry irritable mood and refused to be interviewed right then and there. She rebuffed the police officer's demands and said she was going to get a sandwich from the fridge. After she left the room and ate part of the sandwich, she came back about 5 or 10 minutes later.

    The police officers were really not happy about this. I guess perhaps they wanted to get the woman's side of the story right then and there and not leave her any time to think about exactly what she was going to say. (It could give her time to think up a lie and get all her facts straight).

    The woman did give them her side of the story when she came back. But after listening to her story, they told her they were arresting her. She asked "What for?"
    They told her they were arresting her for "obstructing justice", because she had tried to prevent her husband from calling the police.

    I guess her throwing the apple at her husband wasn't solid enough grounds to arrest her, so the police had to think up a different pretext.
    So that was the charge she was arrested on.


    It is kind of outrageous, when you think about it. That a woman could be arrested and charged for telling her own husband not to call the police on her.

    It goes to show the ways these laws can be interpreted, and how all the laws leave a huge swath of latitude up to law enforcement to decide how they will interpret and apply these laws. There's always a law for the occasion if they want to arrest someone.


    Now I do not know exactly what this woman did, but it would not be difficult to imagine that this woman had used her hands to try to block her husband from using the phone.
    And perhaps the husband took some extra perverse delight in calling the police, especially when he knew his wife didn't want him to. A husband and wife angry at each other and embattled in petty domestic bickering.

    I don't feel this is really the type of situation police should be arresting one of them over.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  2. Capt Nice

    Capt Nice Well-Known Member

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    This looks like a good example of how fake news works.
     
  3. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It’s worth remembering that you’re only getting one side of the story there and from an obviously biased party. Even if she doesn’t intend to, she is going to inevitably put a spin on the story that favours her (and to an extent, you could be too).

    As described no, which makes me wonder whether we have a complete and accurate report of events. It’s perfectly possible the police officers involved were in the wrong but it’s at least equally possible that they weren’t due to some key factor we’ve not been told about.
     
  4. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Yes, of course I am aware of that. However, I believe it is a mistake to automatically dismiss any and all anecdotal stories, and refuse to learn any lessons from them, just because all the details and facts can't be verified.

    These type of things probably go on with a high degree of prevalence, and we will mostly just end up ignoring and dismissing it if we demand the level of "proof" and "evidence" people may want. Think about it.

    What a happy care-free world we must live in if we refuse to recognize anything bad unless we have total rock solid proof it happened.

    Anecdotal stories are certainly enough to foster a discussion on a political forum.

    Plus this woman emphasized at the beginning of the story that she was arrested for throwing an apple at her husband, leading me to think she did not believe there was anything else physical in the interaction she could have been arrested for.

    I've noticed a pattern here with many of you. It's easy to dismiss stories and say "we must not have all the critical facts" when what happened in the story doesn't seem to make sense to us.

    I think that's sort of a cop-out.

    I believe I offered a plausible explanation why she was arrested. The police officers were not happy about her delay in answering her questions.

    The story is perfectly plausible, even without any additional critical details.

    Don't be so dismissive. At least recognize the probability that this story could have happened at face value, exactly as the woman told it.

    If we apply your logic, then we really can't be certain of anything.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  5. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I didn't automatically dismiss it but I didn't automatically accept it either. None of us need to reach a definitive conclusion on the specific incident to discuss any of the issues or questions it raises and I suspect a lot of people will jump to definitive conclusions one way of another, something I think it is beneficial to discourage.

    Yet you say she was actually arrested for "obstructing justice" so even that retelling isn't consistent.

    Because if I'd come out and unilaterally declared that she is obviously lying to cover her embarrassment for attacking her husband and getting arrested, you'd (quite rightly) object. ;) I'm not going to apologise for not leaping to unsupported conclusions.

    Sure. I never said it wasn't plausible. There are countless other plausible explanations though, even ones that don't require any element of your retelling to be wrong. Why only discuss one possibility?

    Probably not. :D It's up to you whether you try to convince yourself that isn't true or just embrace the fear of our inevitable ignorance. :cool:
     
  6. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    All I am asking you to do is accept the possibility that this story happened in the way it was presented, and accept that stories like this probably do happen.

    I suppose the real point of this story is to demonstrate how laws can sometimes be interpreted (by those who have the power) to make otherwise ridiculous things into something illegal.
    (i.e. Things that most people would never think of as being something illegal)
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  7. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It's certainly possible and that kind of thing certainly can and does happen.

    True, though people can also be legitimately arrested for illegal things despite being confident that what they did was completely harmless. Police officers and suspects are all human beings and all equally capable of human failings.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  8. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Maybe some of these laws themselves are to blame for that.
    Simple-minded ignorant people oftentimes say "If you don't want to be arrested, don't break the law", but that's sometimes not how it actually works.
     
  9. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    There can certainly be badly written or even badly intended laws but I’m not sure that’s the case here. I think we can agree that obstructing justice is conceptually wrong and having laws around it a requirement but like in so many areas it’s a difficult concept to pin down. Any law is going to have some fuzziness, some element of personal judgement that will need to be applied at every level, from the point of a police officer deciding to arrest through to a judge passing sentence.

    There’s also the oft-forgotten element in this kind of case that we have a full set of information to read through, the freedom to set back and think it through and no real cost for getting it wrong. A police officer in the heat of the moment will be dealing with a mess of incomplete and mixed messages, the requirement to make a decision on the spot and the risk of major penalties for themselves if they get it really wrong.
     

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