19-year-old Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was arrested early this morning by Miami Beach police for allegedly driving with an expired driver’s license, DUI, and resisting arrest without violence, all misdemeanors. According to Officer Medina’s Complaint/Arrest affidavit Bieber was observed in a yellow Lamborghini racing or at least “start a contest of speed (drag racing) from a start” with an accompanying red Lamborghini. Officer Medina claims two large black SUVs were following the Lamborghinis in an effort to block off traffic to facilitate the race. Upon detainer Bieber is said to have questioned why he was stopped while emanating an odor of alcohol, was slow and deliberate in his movements and had bloodshot eyes. After becoming rather nasty with responding officers Bieber is alleged to have resisted the investigation leading to his arrest. In spite of his arrest Bieber is said to have advised that he was not drunk and that he was coming back from recording music at a studio. Officers were not “beliebers” and arrested the pop prince anyway.
I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber. I don’t know what he sings but even if I did I don’t think my taste in music is the same as my 6 year old niece’s or that of a 15 year old high school sophomore’s. I’m sure he’s great in his own right and if he wants to gift me a few million who am I to be rude and say no? All that said, I’d love to defend him on his recent snafu as this case may present some issues to huff and puff over. Will the huffing and puffing blow the case down? Probably not but it could provide leverage to free The Biebs on lesser charges. Lets start with the resisting arrest without violence charge.
Officer Medina claims in his Complaint/Arrest Affidavit that Bieber was pulled over for “drag racing with the other Lamborghini.” In other words, his reasoning for detaining “The Biebs” was reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed. Upon detainer Officer Medina asked the Canadian sensation to step out of his car and allow for a safety pat down. Officer Medina tried to effect this brief search for weapons and contraband and Bieber bucked, leading to his pulling his arms away after Officer Medina elected to cuff Bieber, likely more so for being a smartass than anything else.
In Florida to support a finding of guilt for the offense of resisting arrest without violence, “the state must show: (1) the officer was engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty; and (2) the action by the defendant constituted obstruction or resistance of that lawful duty.” See S.G.K. v. State, 657 So.2d 1246, 1247 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995). See also Jay v. State, 731 So.2d 774, 775 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). In this case the State would argue that the Officer was engaged in a legal duty of his racing investigation and Bieber wouldn’t submit to a brief pat down. J-Beebs then pulled his arms away when the pretty bracelets came out. It’s not necessary that the underlying criminal activity providing the basis for the arrest result in a charge or conviction; it is only necessary that the officer has a founded suspicion of criminal activity to make the detention. See State v. Dwyer, 317 So.2d 149, 150 (Fla. 2d DCA 1975). In other words, the “[f]acts constituting probable cause [for an arrest] need not meet the standard of conclusiveness and probability required to support a conviction.” See Seago v. State, 768 So.2d 498, 500 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Officer Medina had reasonable suspicion to investigate the racing charge. As he was doing so, Bieba Baby resisted.
So what about this crappy racing statute that was deemed unconstitutional by the 4th District Court of Appeal (“DCA”)? It depends on whether Miami-Dade County, which is in the 3rd DCA, likes the 4th DCA (good) or the 1st DCA (smelly). I have no idea whether Miami courts enforce the racing statute or whether they amend a racing charge to a reckless driving like reasonable Judicial Circuits. If they don’t recognize the racing statute an argument (albeit not necessarily a strong one) could be made that the detainer wasn’t legal and thus the officer was in the execution of a legal duty. This sounds very good and fancy until it falls on its face. In reality the racing charge doesn’t matter as an officer can pull someone over for estimating that they are speeding. Byrd v. State, 964 So.2d 806 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007). Officer Medina enjoys the fellow officer rule imputing another officer’s initial estimate that Bieber was travelling 55-60MPH in a 30MPH zone and as such, the stop would be valid, the investigation would be valid, and the resisting arrest without violence charge will likely stick. Go ahead and toss in there that Biebs had no valid driver’s license when he was pulled and that would be enough for arrest without all of the above. It was a fun ride though wasn’t it!?
What about Biebs’ DUI? After Jailbeebs was stopped he evidently was walking like an Egyptian, smelled like brewery’s drain catch, and had pink eye. This is all boilerplate jargon in every single DUI report ever made since the time of the Vikings. Though it may be overblown an exaggerated at times, it does form reasonable suspicion of DUI allowing for Officer Friendly to request Field Sobriety Tests. Because “The Biebs Knees” was arrested for resisting arrest without violence and not having a valid driver’s license, his field sobriety exercises could technically be done roadside or at the police station. Seems like from the police report they were done at the police station and Purple Passion messed those up too. Throw in a breath test and possible dirty urine and Biebs may have an uphill battle to avoid this charge.
I know I sound as if I’m being hard on the Teenage Dream. I am. The thing is, had he not acted like an asshole to the Officers and done things differently, he may have skated out of this with only a second-degree misdemeanor for not having a valid driver’s license. In most of our resisting cases the charge could be avoided altogether if the person would have just been respectful to the Cop. Depending on the circumstances of the DUI investigation (ie- how drunk is the person) I would have recommended to Bieber that he agree to any test the officer asked for so long as his DUI attorney could watch and be present. It’s not a safe harbor but it can build in a defense. I don’t recommend blindly doing this without your own research or speaking to me but you party how you want to party. At the end of the day, without field sobriety tests, a breath test, pee pee in a cup, and a person that is willing to play ball so long as he has a referee, the State generally has a tough time proving their DUI charge.
If you are a pop star (or aren’t a pop star) and have been arrested for DUI or a criminal offense in the Tampa area, contact Tampa DUI attorney Jason Mayberry today at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.