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Another look at Calcasieu Parish arrests

Lake Charles TV station KPLC regularly posts on its website booking reports from Calcasieu Correctional Center. The sparse lists contain nothing more than a single line about each arrest, giving the person’s name, age, hometown and the charge (or charges) they face.

The lists lack context, including crucial information about evidence, police procedures, probable cause, witnesses and so on. Sometimes the listed charges sound worse than what they really are and sometimes the allegations sound deceptively minor. We thought it might be useful to offer another perspective on recent booking lists.

Earlier this month, a 19-year-old Lake Charles man was arrested on a couple of charges, including production, manufacture, distribution, or possession of a Schedule I drug.

The federal government says Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use. The substances include heroin, ecstasy and LSD. Yet marijuana is also listed as a Schedule I substance, though there is research aplenty documenting its uses in treating pain, nausea and more.

Because the booking list contains so few details, there is no way to know if the young man is accused of being in possession of marijuana or if he’s accused of dealing heroin. Regardless, we do know that the potential penalties range from four years in prison all the way up to 30 years, and fines ranging from $5,000 all the way up to $600,000.

Also in a recent list of bookings: a 24-year-old Sulphur woman charged with criminal mischief – a crime that can involve a wide variety of circumstances.

For instance, according to Louisiana law, a person can be charged with criminal mischief if they fire a gun at a train, give a false report to a police officer or drive a nail into another person’s tree, among other violations.

A recent booking report also contained an accusation against a 26-year-old Lake Charles woman: monetary instrument abuse. The charge can refer to the manufacture or use of counterfeit money, but can also refer to someone who forges a name on a check.

As you can see from our examples, it’s easy to misunderstand criminal charges and to make mistaken assumptions about what a person might or might not have done.

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