A Case of Mistaken Brittanys/Part 1

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Brittany White wasn’t surprised when she was pulled over by a Highway Patrolman. She knew she had just made an illegal left turn. What wasn’t expected was what the traffic stop suddenly became.

Ordered to the back of her car, she was patted down and cuffed.

“I thought, could you get arrested for making an illegal left turn? They said ‘We’ll explain in a minute.'”

The trooper who had pulled her over had run a check and it showed a warrant out for her arrest on a six-year-old drug charge from Pahrump in Nye County.

“I said I’d never been to Pahrump. Sorry guys, you’ve got the wrong girl.”

But everything checked out. Her name, social security number, her description.

“Everything we have,” the trooper said, “leads us to believe it’s the same person.”

So, they transported her to the Washoe County jail. Her boyfriend, Emory Peterson, was called to pick up her car. At first he thought it was a joke.

“How fast could she be going? She drives a Prius.”

Neither fully understood the extent of what she was facing and it didn’t get any clearer when she arrived at the jail. She was insisting there had been a mistake. No one believed her.

“The lady who was inputting me asked what I was in for. I said I didn’t know. I felt like I was having a nightmare. She said, ‘Oh, come on, tell the truth. You know what you did.’ I said I am telling the truth.”

Meanwhile Peterson was working to get her out. The bail was $5,000. She was lucky. They had enough resources to pay the entire amount. Sure, she was innocent; Peterson didn’t want a bail bondsman to take his cut.

In the meantime, Brittany remained behind bars, puzzled and frightened.

“I cried a lot,“ she says. “I didn’t speak unless spoken to. I was polite and cooperative. They weren’t nice to me.”

Finally after hours behind bars, bail paid, she was released, but hardly relieved.

“I was freaking out. We were going to have to spend our life savings to prove I was innocent."

Was she scared?

“Oh, absolutely.”

For good reason. She was facing a court date in two weeks at the other end of the state, facing a charge which carries a potential sentence of one to three years.

And there was another concern. She works with foster children and is pursing a degree in social work. Any hint of a felony arrest on her record, even if she was found innocent, might disqualify her for jobs she was seeking.

Finding out how this had happened and straightening it out would prove their next big challenge. Read Arrested but innocent: 6-year old mistake leads to jailing of woman.