The 5 Strangest Ways Petty Criminals Escaped Punishment
The judicial system is a vessel that breeds creativity. When the court threatens to take away large amounts of our money or, even worse, lock us up in some bullshit prison, the mind's gears get a-turnin'. And sometimes -- just sometimes -- people manage to come up with such over-the-top shenanigans that the law just throws its hands up and gives them a free pass.
We're not saying any of the below strategies will work for you. We're just saying they've worked at least once:
Dmitri Krioukov Uses the Power of Physics to Beat a Traffic Ticket
There was only one thing Dmitri Krioukov hated more than traffic tickets: traffic tickets that gravely insulted the laws of physics.
e.g. "Don't exceed 299,792,458 meters per second in a school zone."
Krioukov was given a ticket for failing to stop at the designated stop sign. Said ticket was issued by a police officer, who saw the misdemeanor take place because he was observing the area with his own police eyes in his police head. However, Krioukov wasn't about to let mere rock solid proof stand in his way. He took that shit to court, arguing that the officer in question mathematically could not have seen what he thought he saw. For proof, he whipped out a four-page academic paper he had written specifically for the judge.
It just so happened that Krioukov was a physicist at the University of California, and thus well versed in confusing the hell out of all living things. Using a shit-ton of mathematical jargon that may as well have been written in hieroglyphics, Krioukov's paper described how the officer who witnessed the supposed violation had gotten his linear speed confused with his angular speed, complete with helpful charts and diagrams.
This one was drawn by Krioukov's daughter, using Spirograph.
Of course, Krioukov's argument was a wonderful exercise in bullshit: He gleefully argued that his car had stopped when the officer wasn't looking, his vision clearly obstructed by another vehicle, and that Krioukov pushed down his brakes and restarted so hard, you could barely notice it. All of this was written with broken English and backed up with huge, complex equations and diagrams. The judge leafed through the paper, gloriously titled "The Proof of Innocence." Then, he looked at his massive to-do list, went, "Screw this, it's just a traffic ticket," and moved on to the next case.
And that, dear readers, is why school is cool.
Geraldine Richter's "That Time of the Month" Defense
Historically, menstruation (and its resulting mood changes) has always been a fairly sensitive subject -- even modern culture can only discuss it through the "that time of the month" euphemism. Over time, this term has come to encompass everything from legitimate PMS to menstrual pains to the goddamn bullshit Dr. Geraldine Richter pulled off.
Doctor bullshit. It's an advanced bullshit level.
In 1991, Dr. Richter -- a 42-year-old orthopedic surgeon -- managed to simultaneously overturn a possible drunk driving conviction and dropkick feminism through a brick wall. After a state trooper pulled her over for erratically driving home from a party, the doctor responded to the law enforcement official's enquiries by politely informing him that she hoped he would get shot, just so that she could refuse to treat him. Then she promptly tried to kick him in the nuts, much to the delight of all her children. Yeah, didn't we mention her car was loaded with kids? Because it totally was.
After the breathalyzer (which she also tried to kick, just in case) flagged her as drunk, it was a done deal: Off to the court she went, and a drunk driving verdict she received.
This, too, delighted the children. Kids just love excitement, in general.
Except that she didn't. Right from the get-go, Richter claimed that she only had four glasses of wine during the entire evening. Her lawyers argued that the reason she behaved like a lunatic was simply because it was, yes, "that time of month." According to them, being afflicted with premenstrual syndrome caused her to absorb alcohol more quickly than normal, inflating her breathalyzer results (and presumably also throwing her feet uncontrollably at the nearest set of balls, at the slightest provocation).
The judge, who found this routine drunk driving case suddenly overtaken by menstrual cycle flowcharts and PMS discussions, decided to believe the defense and acquit the good doctor.
Man Is Allowed to Speed Because He's Awesome at Driving
Brits are notorious for their ability to harrumph at things that even remotely resemble excitement. This very much includes speeding: Driving just 10 percent faster than the speeding limit will gain you -- at the very least -- an instant fine and the judicial equivalent of a huge frowny face on your license. As such, the British highways are known more for polite honking and tea breaks than for breathtaking Fast & Furious antics. Unless, that is, you run into Mark Milton.
Milton was well aware of the concept of speed limits and decided he didn't give a dead rat's ass about them. He was all about the speed, man. In 2003, cameras caught him on a Shropshire motorway, tearing ass at the face-melting speed of 159 miles per hour.
Britain could have measured the speed using kilometers, but numbers don't go that high.
He had also done it before: Milton was well known for zipping around at 120 mph in a 60 mph-limit zone and at more than 60 mph in a 30 mph zone because fuck you twice over, limiters of speed.
Usually, the best-case scenario for such behavior is the driver's transition to a passenger (of an ambulance) due to his car now being locked in a pretzel embrace with a tree. However, Mark Milton was not like most people. He was completely calm and sober. He was also driving a brand new, unmarked police vehicle.Yes, Mark Milton was a law enforcement officer, revving it up on English motorways like nobody's business. And yes, he looks almost exactly like you imagine:
The name's Milton ... Mark Milton.
Of course, in real life, a James Bond is the last fucking driver anyone actually wants to encounter on a public road. Milton's ass was promptly taken to court for behaving like a goddamn idiot. It seemed like the easiest case in history: The guy had not only been blatantly breaking the law, he had done so while being a police officer and violating a perfectly good Bond face with a wispy copstache.
Milton's sole defense for his behavior was this: He should be allowed to drive as he wished because he's just that damn good. Seriously, his entire defensive stratagem was that he had just been getting accustomed to the car, and he chose to do it GTA mayhem style because the law doesn't explicitly state he couldn't. Except that, of course, the law specifically does.
Milton also said he could legally fire his gun on airplanes, so long as he hit a bullseye.
Still, this didn't stop Milton's department from wheeling out witness after witness, all of them stating that he's, like, the best cop ever and should totally be allowed to drive as he likes because he's a great driver, you guys. To make matters worse, it turned out there actually was a clause that enabled police officers to practice driving their vehicles at high speeds, yet neglected to specify just where and how this should be done.
What, were they going to argue with a clause?
After the prosecution unsurprisingly called bullshit, the case was eventually taken to a higher court level ... where they did proclaim Milton was reckless as all hell. This, of course, didn't stop them from giving him an absolute discharge because, hey, the man had clearly suffered enough with all these court cases. And anyway, look at him go!
Epilogue: Years later he would have an accident while going 100 mph in a 40 mph zone.
A Lawyer Wins His Case by Opening Fire on the Jury
There was a time in America when it wasn't fancy legal shenanigans that helped a man escape the law, but a pair of six guns on his hips (at least according to the historical documentary Young Guns 2). Well, Temple Lea Houston kind of had both.
Both guns. And both hips. Also, the legal shenanigans.
The son of famed politician Sam Houston, Temple Lea was a legendary orator and the youngest practicing lawyer in the state. He roamed the old west decked in high-heeled boots, an all-white outfit, and a long Prince Albert coat. He got away with this because he also happened to be a famed and feared gunfighter who never went anywhere unarmed.
In his most famous (and insane) case, he agreed to defend a farmer who had killed a notorious local outlaw. The case seemed hopeless: The dead man had been found with his gun still in its holster, apparently shot in cold blood. Even worse, the Snidely Whiplashian prosecutor had managed to pack the jury full of the victim's friends. There was no way they would ever vote to acquit. Still, Houston was convinced the killing had been in self-defense. He knew there had been a confrontation between the farmer and the dead guy, and that the latter had been a renowned quick draw expert. If the defendant had waited for him to reach for his gun, he would have been signing his own death sentence. But how to prove that point to the jury?
By calling the slain outlaw to the stand, because zombie cowboys make everything better?
By quick-drawing your own guns and opening fire on them, that's how.
Seriously, that was Temple's plan. He lightning-drew his own twin Colts and started blasting at the judge and jury. When the panic eventually subsided and the judge crawled out from behind his bench, he found himself face-to-face with an innocent-looking Temple Lea Houston. The gun, Temple explained, had been loaded with blanks for a harmless, fun demonstration of quick-draw skills and how easily someone with said skills could kill anyone, anytime, just ... like ... that.
Jurors who bought this argument would be obligated to immediately kill Houston in self-defense.
Of course, the rigged and shot-at jury failed to see the funny side and found the defendant guilty as balls ... which is when Temple played his real ace in the hole. The whole shooting thing had been a mere part of his gambit: At the start of the trial, the judge had specifically ordered the jury to be sequestered. When the crazed gunman started shooting at them, they immediately ran screaming, coming into contact with members of the public in the panic. This enabled Temple to demand a mistrial, as the rules had been blatantly breached by this coward jury who dared to run when shot at.
The judge had no choice but to agree and order a new trial. This time, Temple was able to secure an impartial jury and easily defend his client. Having successfully completed yet another episode of Temple Lea Houston: Justice Fucker, he rode into the sunset, presumably with the judge's daughter in tow.
Man Convinces Court He Is Legally Santa Claus
There is nothing illegal about getting into a minor car crash, as Ohio resident Warren Hays did back in 2001. However, if when the cops show up to the scene you hand them an ID that says your name is "Santa Claus" and lists your address as "1 Noel Drive, North Pole USA," they're going to slap the cuffs on you. Having the world's most whimsically fake ID doesn't change the fact that you have a fake ID, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Meanwhile, back at the party, your friends will wait, sad and dry.
But, where many of us would have just shut up at this point and pleaded guilty to having a fraudulent state-issued ID and also being something of a smartass, Warren "Santa Claus" Hays was determined to mount a defense. After all, is that not what Santa himself would do? If Santa was accused of a minor crime that he did, in fact, commit?
So the case went to court, at which point Hays (who, in fact, did make a hobby of dressing up as Santa and giving toys to children) filed a motion to dismiss the case. And if this sounds like the plot of Miracle on 34th Street, it totally is -- Hays' defense would be the same as that of the imposter Santa in the film.
What, were they going to argue with a Claus?
Only instead of showing up in the courtroom with a bag full of children's letters addressed to Santa, Hays walked in with a stack of ID cards. See, he hadn't gotten some dude in a basement to make him a phony ID: He applied for a real one, as Santa Claus, from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles ... way back in 1982. At the time, some sleepy bureaucrat rubber stamped it, and when it came up for renewal, they did it again. Over and over, for 20 years, until the day Hays handed the ID to a cop.
So his defense was that the state of Ohio literally recognized him as Santa Claus, which under Ohio law, meant that's now who he was. Hell, the guy even had a checking account under that name. The judge ruled in Santa's favor, pointing out that that the man couldn't be accused of stealing someone else's identity because, "... this court is not called upon to reach an ultimate determination of the issue as to the actual existence of Santa Claus."
Related Reading: Want more criminals sticking a thumb in Justice's eye? Click here and read about the man who escaped jail and bragged about it on Facebook. Or click here to read about the dude who filled out a job application and then IMMEDIATELY robbed the same gas station. Round out your outlaw reading with these shameful police chases.