My Run-in With the Law in 2010

So, I've been laying low lately here on the blog. Here's why...

I woke up on the morning of May 21st all excited because I knew that I would spend the day with other like-minded people at a leadership conference in Virginia Beach. I had no agenda that day other than just the normal networking... and high hopes of receiving some insights that might help me in my ministry and my personal life too.

Upon leaving the conference I phoned a dear friend, a church leader, and told him how much I learned from speakers Perry Noble, James McDonald, Al Mohler, and Jonathan Falwell, just to name a few. Then I realized I had to stop by and visit with a student. I knew he would be moving the next day out of the state and I wanted to see him off.

A few hours later I headed home and thought I'd make a quick phone call to my mother. I approached the intersection just down the street from my neighborhood. No one else was there. When the light turned green I turned left and within a couple hundred yards took a right into the entrance of my neighborhood. Suddenly I heard a siren. I looked in my rearview mirror but didn't see anything. So I continued ahead and before approaching the next stop sign I noticed lights in the distance. Still thinking nothing of it I took a left onto the road that I live on and immediately came up on a lady walking her dog. Just after passing by her I looked again in my mirror and saw the sheriff cruising up behind me so I quickly pulled over on the grass to get out of his way. Little did I know that he was in pursuit of me. "Mom, I uh... am being stopped for some reason. I have to go now."

Within a split second the officer ordered me out of the car and onto the ground. Before I knew it I was in handcuffs! I had no clue what this was in regards to. I immediately began getting questioned by the officer and remember being completely freaked out because I was in cuffs with no clue as to why I was being yelled at. The sheriff began to tell me that he witnessed me do a "burnout" at a traffic light and that I fled from him once he began to pursue me. Within a few moments two other officers came on the scene. Once out of their cars one of the officers began instigating the entire thing affirming that he "could still smell the tires."

After a few more minutes had passed the sheriff who stopped me stated that I would probably go to jail and then asked me to sit in the car. An eternity seemed to pass before he came to speak with me. A little while later he came up to my car and said, "Mr. Crawford, I'm not going to take you to jail, but if it were up to my partners I would. Instead, I'm writing you a citation for reckless driving." Nearly speechless I drove the rest of the way home and called my mother back to explain why I had to hang up the phone so suddenly.

I ended up getting a lawyer to represent me in court. That's what you do when you face reckless driving charges - or so I've heard. I have a spotless driving record... so I've never dealt with anything like this before. I also decided to have a character witness stand with me in court because I learned that the officer's cruiser was not equipped with a dashboard camera and it would be a case of his word vs. mine.

My trial date kept getting postponed because of one thing or another so several months passed. In September we went to trial and things did not turn out so well. The sheriff shared his recollection of events that happened and then I shared my version. They were COMPLETELY different stories. It was obvious to me standing in the court room that day that this officer had been in pursuit of someone else and somehow mistook me for them.

After hearing the case the Judge declared that I was guilty(what happened to innocent until proven guilty???). He then fined me and suspended my license for 6 months. My lawyer asked the judge to consider my driving record and after looking over my record he then stated that my license would be restricted for 6 months.

We decided to appeal.

So now the stakes would be higher.

More money spent in legal fees for something I did not do.

My faith has been tested. Oh yes, tested.

I've questioned why all of this has happened to me.

As I have reflected on the events of that day I remember the thing that stood out most to me was one of the speakers talking about the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they were made to walk into a furnace that had been turned up 7 times hotter than usual.
Is this my furnace? I've often asked.

I've asked God for some comfort... and I believe he's given me that. On December 2nd I was traveling to South Carolina. I found myself behind a Ford Explorer on I-95 and written across the rear windshield in window chalk -- in GIGANTIC LETTERS -- was the scripture reference PSALM 64. Soon I found a Bible (NIV translation) and read God's Word about my situation. Trust me... there's no denying that it was meant for me. Read it. Thank you, Jesus.

I started praying for God to work in my behalf.

The Lord had been encouraging me, I felt, to wait on Him. To allow Him to be my defender.

Then, when I thought things couldn't get crazier, they did!

Within a couple of days my lawyer called me. He told me that someone contacted the sheriff's department and told them that I had preached a sermon on "police brutality" at my church.

What?!?

This did not happen.

I had only shared with my church the fact that I was going throught the situation and was having to rely upon my faith to make wise decisions. I was then asked by my lawyer to not share any further details until the case was over.

On December 14th, 2010 I went to court. In short, the judge ended up finding me guilty but I was glad I was able to stand before his court (with integrity) and state "Your honor, in my heart I did not do this... but I understand the officer feels I am in error and I have to respect his judgement and your authority."

At the end of the day I walked away being charged with a hefty fine but I was grateful to have it all over with... and know that I had not lost my integrity through it all.

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5 Responses to “My Run-in With the Law in 2010”

  1. # Blogger Audrey

    Wow...all I can give you is this...

    Romans 8:28

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose

    Something good will come out of this because you have definitely been called according to His purpose!!!  

  2. # Blogger -Brian

    Wow man, I am so sorry that happened to you!!! It goes to show though, I believe, God is going to do great things in your life and church! Many people throughout the Bible were tested and accused of things they did not do! God has your back...Merry Christmas!!!  

  3. # Blogger Kevin Bussey

    Wow. That is scary. Sorry for what you have gone through.  

  4. # Blogger Joshua Griffin

    Dude, that is a CRAZY story! Glad you honored God above all, what a challenging time that must have been. DUDE ...  

  5. # Anonymous Jason Barthelemy

    Wow, Terrace that is an amazing story. Way to take the higher road in this situation. It's too bad that you ended up with a fine. Thanks for sharing.  

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