ST. PETERSBURG: Bribing the Police Doesn’t Work… Unless You Want An Additional Felony Charge

According to a humorous story in today’s St. Petersburg Times, a St. Pete resident, who was arrested on charges of Felony Battery and DUI early Friday morning, made the following last-ditch offer to the cops on his way to the Pinellas County Jail (otherwise known as the “Sheriff Coats Motel”):

He would give the arresting officer $300 to let the whole thing slide? According to St. Petersburg Police Department, Philip Charles Wood’s “offer” was not only rejected, but earned him an additional Felony charge of Bribery.

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According to police, Wood was first accused of Assaulting a man about 3:00 a.m. at 233 Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete. After that, officers noticed Wood driving by the scene of the assault and pulled his vehicle over.

The victim of the assault later identified Wood. Officers also determined that Wood was Driving Under the Influence, according to his arrest report. Wood, however, refused to take a breath test or do field sobriety exercises (what’s known in the business as a “double refusal”).

Following his refusal to submit to FSE’s or a breath test, Wood was placed under arrest for DUI. Later that morning, around 4:40 a.m., as a transport officer drove him to the Pinellas County Jail (PCJ), Wood offered a $300 bribe to let him go and “drop the charges.”

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Let’s just say, in a nutshell, that did not work!

In the State of Florida, law enforcement agencies can charge suspects for the time their officers spend investigating them. This is usually done at Sentencing when the State Attorney’s Office requests “Investigative Costs” as part of an individual’s sentence.

According to Wood’s arrest report, two (2) St. Petersburg Police Department officers spent five (5) hours total on his case at their standard rate of $25 an hour, for a total of $125. Apparently, in Wood’s intoxicated condition, he used this amount to calculate the amount of his alleged bribe.

“[The] Defendant stated that I would only be getting $125 for Investigative Costs anyways,” the officer wrote in a report, “so he would make it $300.”

According to the St. Pete Times, Wood should have saved his money. If convicted, he’ll be responsible for paying that $125 in Investigative Costs, as well as the standard Fines and Court Costs that will be assessed in court.

Assuming this is Wood’s first DUI, he’ll be looking at over $1,000 in Fines and Costs (not including the price of an attorney, DUI School, an Alcohol Evaluation and any recommended follow up treatment, “cost of supervision” which will be payable for Probation, etc.). As I commonly tell many of my “first time” DUI offenders, “a first time DUI is a $5,000 cab ride” by the time you pay for your attorney and all of the above-listed fees, fines and costs.

A quick look at Wood’s address on his Arrest Report shows that he lives in northeast St. Pete (which, on average, is a $20-25 cab ride). Unfortunately, as we see way too often, alcohol consumption frequently leads to poor decision making.

Wood was being held in the Pinellas County Jail Friday afternoon in lieu of a $15,250 Bond. Making matters worse, Wood was already out on Bond on Burglary charges when he was arrested. Therefore, it can be expected that the Judge and/or the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) will move to “revoke” his previously posted Bond for violating the terms of his Pretrial Release.

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If you or a loved one has been arrested, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. is on your side. For more information, contact former State of Florida Prosecutor Nicholas J. Dorsten, of the Clearwater-based Blake & Dorsten, P.A..

If your case requires an experienced and aggressive defense, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will be there for you.

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To speak directly with us and/or to set up a free consultation to discuss your case, please call 727.286.6141. You can also email Nicholas at: info@blakedorstenlaw.com

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