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Court Drops Charges Against Woman Who Filmed Her Arrest

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Thanks to smartphones, almost anyone can make a video recording almost anywhere. And, to be sure, video recordings can tell truths that would otherwise be unknown, and thus they can be an important piece of evidence in court. Today, the story of Melanie Carter’s cell phone video of her own arrest ended with a victory for justice. She had been charged with resisting arrest after filming a police officer speaking abusively toward three teen girls and making bogus threats of disorderly conduct charges.

What Is Disorderly Conduct, and When Are Disorderly Conduct Charges Made?

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor consisting of almost any type of behavior that endangers or greatly inconveniences the public. It can take the form of reckless behavior that physically endangers others, using profane or abusive language in public, or even just being excessively noisy. Because what constitutes disorderly conduct is somewhat subjective, some see it as an excuse to arrest people just to arrest them. Studies on racial profiling show that African-Americans are much more likely to be arrested for doing things that police often ignore when Caucasians do them; disorderly conduct is one such low-level charge often mentioned in these studies. For example, a 2015 study by the ACLU showed that, in every municipality included in the study, Black people were at least twice as likely as White people to be arrested for disorderly conduct, loitering, and trespassing, in other words, just for being in a particular place.

In the News

Last year, Melanie Carter was at a movie theater in North Versailles with her children. Theater security told three African-American teenage girls, none of whom Carter knew, to leave the premises because they were being noisy and rowdy. Carter recorded video footage of the security guards speaking abusively to the girls and calling them “animals.” She spoke up in the girls’ defense, and one of the mall security guards, Christopher Kelly, who was an off-duty police officer, also asked Carter to leave. She refused, and Kelly attempted to arrest her; she was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The video shows Kelly taking out a pair of handcuffs. This month, a court ruled to drop the charges against Carter. Carter, who performs music under the stage name Blak Rapp Madusa, considers the ruling a victory and plans to continue her efforts to protect African-American youth who are under attack by law enforcement. Her defense lawyer successfully argued that the theater security did not have the right to make her leave because she was a paying customer and because her children were in the theater.

Let Our Office Help You Today

If you are facing disorderly conduct charges, ask yourself if you were arrested for being disorderly or just for being. Contact the Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Gary E. Gerson for immediate assistance with your case.

Resources:

aclu.org/news/study-documents-extreme-racial-disparity-arrests-low-level-offenses

post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2019/01/10/Melanie-Carter-North-Versailles-police-arrest-movie-theater-viral-video-charges-dismissed/stories/201901100097

pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/01/10/melanie-carter-movie-theater-arrest-charges-dropped/

https://www.pittsburghdefenselawyers.com/is-it-kidnapping-if-it-is-your-own-child/

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