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What do you do when the police arrest you? Get your mom to sue!
Actress Winnifred Bonjean-Alpart, a rising star in feminist theater and star of Slut: The Play, was 17-years-old when she was arrested last August for disorderly conduct and possession of alcohol by a minor and a forged instrument (identification).
Now, she's claiming that police violated her constitutional rights, planted false evidence in her purse, and wrongfully arrested her.
Last August, police were called to an apartment because of a noise complaint. There, they found Winnifred Bonjean-Alpart and friends having a party. They requested identification from the attendants, but Winnifred walked around telling everybody present that they did not have to show police any identification (probably learned from her attorney mother.)
Unsurprisingly, Winnifred was the only person arrested. Police claim that they found two empty alcohol bottles and a fake Maryland's driver's licenses in Winnifred's purse. She claims the booze and ID were planted because she asserted her First Amendment rights.
She was charged with disorderly conduct and possession of alcohol by a minor and a forged instrument. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Ann E. Scherzer dismissed the disorderly conduct charge against Winnifred and will dismiss the other two charges as well, as long as Winnifred stays out of trouble for a period of time.
Despite being let off the hook, the young actress and her mother want to sue the police for wrongful arrest.
Winnifred claims that police cuffed her too tightly, slammed her against a wall, and put her in a holding cell with men for 18 hours in central booking. The duo is suing the city for $2 million.
There's just one little hitch though. Jennifer Bonjean, despite being an experienced defense attorney who had victories suing the authorities in the past, missed a deadline. In New York, you have only 90 days after an incident to file a Notice of Claim to the city. Once the notice is filed, you have one year to actually file the lawsuit. Bonjean missed the 90 day deadline. Now, she must petition the court for permission to proceed with her lawsuit against the city.
If the Manhattan Supreme Court doesn't grant permission to sue, Winnifred will just have to be satisfied with the charges being dropped and not having to spend more time in jail.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.