Danielle's Criminal History

Have you ever googled your own name? I am less than amused about companies presenting information obtained through social media and public records in unflattering ways to make a profit, but since my "criminal record" came up the last time I searched my name, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my story so that others may learn from my mistake. It's an entertaining story, anyway.

December 2000

I was studying art at The University of North Texas in one of the coolest college towns, Denton, Texas. My friends and I were diligent students, and we liked to ride skateboards to get to and from class and skate around town and on Fry Street, which then was a fantastic street of fun, music, culture, parties, and adventure back in 2000. I forget which night it happened, but I know it happened during dead week. Three friends, and I were exhausted from studying decided to go out for an evening skate. I'll make up their names as to protect my friends and to give you an idea about what we might have appeared like at the time: there was Punk-Rock Ava, Doctor-Alternative Jeremy, and Anime Jack, and Skate-Nerd me. I guess no one could tell that we were all honor students and at least one of us on the Dean's list by the way we looked that night, really cool I might add;  but that didn't matter. The guys were doing 50-50 grinds on the curbs near one of the campus buildings, and us girls were doing kick-flips and ollies in the nearby parking lot. I remember hearing something off in the distance and thinking that one of the security guards on campus was saying something to us. I also remember the no-skating sign that seemed at the time to only be a suggestion not to be taken with any serious regard.  Suddenly, one of the guys yelled, "Run!"  Before I knew it we were all running away from the security guard as our flight instinct kicked in without a second thought. 

We jumped on our boards and flew as far away from that building as we could. Then we heard sirens and kept going across the busy street before us. Police cars were coming in all directions, lights, sounds, in all directions - I think there must have been at least four police cars in pursuit of us. I remember not knowing what to do, so I said to punk-rock Ava, "Quick, let's jump over the fence and into that pile of leaves!" We did, but as soon as we were hidden, police cars arrived just down the street from us, and we could see the guys being placed into handcuffs. Ava and I were terrified and couldn't believe what was happening. We didn't realize the gravity of what was happening until then, that the security guard was an actual police officer and that we had all evaded arrest! 

Ava and I looked to one another as our hearts slowed enough for us to talk and decided it was best we turned ourselves in, for we wouldn't be good friends to let our friends get arrested. Still, I remember the whole incident happening so quickly and being so surprised. We walked up slowly and were instantly placed in cuffs as well and hauled off to the county jail where we spent the night with some very scary characters. With much disappointment, our families had to bail us out of jail, and Animae Jack got into trouble with the Japanese embassy, but fortunately was able to stay at the school to finish  his studies. As a part of our punishment, we had to pay a fine of $1000, which was a lot back then, write an apology letter to the police officer, be on probation and have a drug test every two weeks for a full year, and give back to our communities through community service. After a year, all of our cases were dismissed. 

In retrospect, I wish I never ran. I wish that I could have pushed a pause button and allowed the police officer to ask us what he wanted to ask us or issue a ticket. After the event, I never skated on campus again, and the event was so traumatic for me that I transferred to The University of Texas at Arlington in my hometown, where I had the support of family and friends. I don't regret going back home and cherish the experiences and people I met as a result. Overall, there are several lessons to be learned from this experience, and I invite you to come to your own.