Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Guy Who Brought 32 Bags of Weed into a Courtroom

Crime
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Dec. 27 2012 1:04 PM

Dumb Criminal of the Week: The Guy Who Brought 32 Bags of Weed into a Courtroom

Marijuana Bags
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: A Seattle resident takes marijuana from a plastic bag shortly after a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana took effect on December 6, 2012.

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Name: Marquis Diggs

Crime: Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

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Fatal mistake: Bringing drugs into a courtroom.

The circumstances: December 14 was a very bad day for 29-year-old Jersey City resident Marquis Diggs. That morning, he woke up, grabbed his coat, and headed off to family court, where his mother was waiting to file a restraining order against him. Upon his arrival, Diggs was promptly arrested on several outstanding warrants. The Jersey Journal reports that a subsequent search revealed “32 bags of suspected marijuana” and $176 in Diggs’ coat pocket. The drugs were seized and Diggs was arrested again.

Unfortunately for Diggs, the Hudson County Administration Building—where he and his mother were facing off—is located within walking distance of four schools. Under New Jersey state law, there are severe penalties for dealers who bring drugs within 1000 feet of school property. Diggs now faces an extra three years without parole tacked onto his sentence, unless he draws a kindly judge (which he probably won’t). He’ll also face the charges on the outstanding warrants. But on the plus side, given that he'll be in jail for a while, his mom’s restraining order is probably a moot point.

How he could’ve been a lot smarter: Diggs could’ve worn a different coat. Seven out of 10 impromptu courthouse arrests come about because the perp accidentally wore his “crime coat” instead of, say, a nice blue blazer.

How he could’ve been a little smarter: He could’ve left some of those baggies at home. Unless we’re talking about Willie Nelson, anyone caught carrying 32 bags of weed is going to be mistaken for a drug dealer. If he’d had, say, one or two baggies it’d be easier to argue that he’s just a laid back dude who likes to keep things mellow.

How he could’ve been a little dumber: “No, no, judge, you don’t understand. I brought these drugs for you, as a bribe.”

How he could’ve been a lot dumber: He could've completed his outfit by matching his "crime coat" with his "murder pants," containing 32 bags of blood matching up with 32 unsolved Jersey City homicides.

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): This was pretty damn dumb. Though our national attitudes toward marijuana use are evolving, the winds of change haven’t yet blown through the municipal buildings of Jersey City. Maybe in 10 years or so we’ll see judges toking on the bench and jurors playing hacky sack to the sounds of Government Mule bootlegs. But for now, criminals would be advised to keep their drugs at home on their court dates. Courthouses are overrun with cops trained to notice suspicious bulges, computers that will reveal any outstanding warrants, and X-ray machines that will scan your coat and discover your weed. If you insist on ignoring these points, you deserve whatever fate befalls you. 7 out of 10 for Marquis Diggs.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.