When you call the police to report a crime, the thought probably doesn’t even cross your mind that you will be the one arrested and jailed. But that’s exactly what happened to Teresa Culpepper on August 21.
Culpepper phoned the police to report her truck stolen. It had been taken from out in front of her Hawkins Street home. When the police arrived, they decided to arrest Culpepper on an aggravated assault charge—an offense she didn’t commit and for which there was no valid warrant for her arrest.
There was a warrant for another woman named Teresa, however. She didn’t look like Culpepper, didn’t have a similar address, a similar birthdate, or a similar last name. Culpepper was arrested simply for sharing the name Teresa.
It would be 53 days later before Culpepper would be released from Fulton County Jail. She spent almost 2 months in jail for something she didn’t do and knew nothing about.
Culpepper was assigned a public defender and it wasn’t until this attorney got the victim of the alleged assault to come to court and say Culpepper was not the Teresa who assaulted her, that she was released. You would think all of the other information, like her name, date of birth, and physical description would have been enough.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the actual suspect has still not been arrested and spoke with Channel 2 about the case.
Not surprisingly, Culpepper is now considering a civil suit against the city for her arrest and extended stay in the local jail.
Cases of mistaken identity are rare but do happen. Typically, however, the mistake lies in an eyewitness identification. Even in cases as serious as murder, eyewitness identification can be flawed and undetected until long after a conviction and sentence are handed down. Many DNA exonerations are connected to flawed eyewitness identification or testimonies.
When you are facing charges of a crime and you know you are innocent, it’s common to feel like no one believes you, especially the cops and the prosecutor. Your defense attorney is often your only advocate within the criminal courts. However, if you are innocent, it is your attorney’s job to help prove this and resolve the case with minimal negative effects on your life.
If you’ve been accused of something you didn’t do and are in need of counsel, contact us today.