Wrongfully Accused Woman Spends Night In Jail

A Panama City woman was recently jailed for a crime she didn't commit. To add insult to injury, she was told she'd have to pay to have the arrest removed from her record. There are hundreds of movies and books about mistaken identity, but Tiffany Hewett lived the story for real last month.
"I am not a thief, I am not a thief and for that to be made public for everybody around town to see that,” said Tiffany, “that really upsets me. I would never, never do that."
Tiffany Hewett's problems began January 31st when Bay County Sheriff's investigators came to her home and arrested her for stealing a check, forging it, then cashing it for $500. Hewett spent the night in jail, but the next day sheriff's officials released her, saying they'd made a mistake: someone else named Tiffany Hewett had committed the crime.
" I lost my job in December and then we lost our house, and my car, and then this happened, and now I feel like I can't even go get a job anywhere, because I don't want them to do a search and maybe find something."
When Hewett tried to have the charges removed from her record, court officials told her she'd have to pay to have it expunged. Friday, Bay County Sheriff's officials say there was definitely a human error and they've made some changes to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"This is an isolated incident, but it happened because of failure to do a diligent investigation,” said Capt. Jimmie Stanford of the Criminal Investigations Division. “For awhile, every arrest warrant has got to be approved by a supervisor."
The investigator handling the case was disciplined and the sheriff's office has removed the charges from Hewett's record, for free.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by SECURITY Location: PC on Feb 21, 2012 at 08:37 AM
    I was arrested on the beach a couple of years back lost my job; Had my house search and went through a polygraph of which I passed later the real crook was caught never got one apology for the Bay County Sheriffs Office. It was a bad thing to go through sorry this happened to you; You should find a lawyer out of this county to help you.
  • by Bill Location: PCB on Feb 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM
    This kind of thing happens more often than most know. BCSO has some real leadership problems, persons are often put in positions based on who they know & not their abilities to perform. If the general public had knowledge of all the goings on at BCSO I don't think Frank would be so popular, but then again this is a "Good Ole Boy" town.
  • by Rick Location: Youngstown on Feb 19, 2012 at 06:46 AM
    If the police make an error and jail you in error It is of little consequence to them. If you make an error such as resisting that improper and illegal arrest you will be charged with a crime. I think it should be a crime for them to arrest the wrong person.
  • by Greg Location: Lynn Haven on Feb 19, 2012 at 05:57 AM
    I suggest we put the officer and his supervisor through the same degradation this person had to go endure. Perhaps they could learn from their mistake and not be so quick to take someone to jail on hear say!If they were that sloppy in their work leading up to the arrest why would any body be suprised that they would drag their feet to clear this ladies name?
  • by goto Location: calhoun,B-town on Feb 18, 2012 at 05:42 PM
    yes it was a mistake, but bcso got paid to put her in jail for the 1 day...So why dont she get paid ! fair is fair....and to be honest, this happens alot in Bay county aka " PAY COUNTY " God bless this women.. Yes ur guilty untill proven innocent, thats just the way the system is... If you dont have the money for a lawyer, prepare to get railroad, cause they say,if you cant afford lawyer,that one will be a appointed to you at "NO" cost...am i rite ? No im wrong, because they do charge you... its a proven fact....
    • reply
      by Barbara on Feb 19, 2012 at 07:09 AM in reply to goto
      You are correct 100% - there are maybe one or two public defenders worth having, the rest railroad you !! and you pay dearly for it
  • by Barbara Location: PCB on Feb 18, 2012 at 05:00 PM
    "but it happened because of failure to do a diligent investigation" - SURE IS A LOT OF THAT GOING ON INSIDE THE BCSO
  • by Mark on Feb 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM
    This was a mistake, and a matter of negligence, and the BCSO should make it good. But I never see nay outrage for the false warrants for non existent crimes based on a sworn statement of an individual It is almost NEVER that the false accusers who do this maliciously are ever charged for their crime. Yes, there should be outrage over what happened through negligence. But where is the outrage over innocent people put in jail everyday who committed no crime, where no crime even occurred and the person who did commit a crime doesn't ever have charges brought. The entire system needs review. Ask around. There are more people who have had this than you know. And no one expunges the false arrests from their records without being paid.
  • by BrianE Location: PC on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
    BigT, what does this incident have anythig to do with Panama City Police? Mistakes do happen and it sounds like the Sheriff is making amends to correct the mistakes, key word mistake. Now if there is any proof this was done maliciously or criminally then she should be able to sue the Investigator and he/she lose their job and certification and spend time in jail. Kudos to the Deputies and Sheriff Office employee's who are making things right.
  • by Richard Location: Pc on Feb 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM
    Tiffany should sue and hold the investigator and bcso responsible the public should be allowed to know how this individual was disciplined in this case
  • by Tiffany on Feb 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM
    I was never trying to make anybody look bad, but what happend to me was the truth and if that makes them look bad then thats nobodys fault but their own. Like i said to the reporter i have recently lost everything and i would love more than anything to sue but have no money.
    • reply
      by beach guy on Feb 19, 2012 at 06:56 AM in reply to Tiffany
      You should contact the american civil liberties union if you havent the money for lawyers. They exist soley for cases/situations like this, maybe they can help you, especially if everything you lost (home, job,etc.) is do to this wrongful arrest.
    • reply
      by Mary on Feb 19, 2012 at 08:37 AM in reply to Tiffany
      Tiffany I'm sure you can find a lawyer that will take the case on a contingency basis. You might also want to see if your civil liberties have been violated by the investigators failure to investigate fully.
    • reply
      by goto on Feb 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM in reply to Tiffany
      Tiffany, to be honest with you, your going to have to get a lawyer out of the town of bay county..cause some lawyers will tell you, that they have to live in the city and wont take your case, witch i think is a bunch of b.s. Im proud to be american, but there is to much corruption in this country... Tiffany you need to find a lawyer that will do it on, if you win, you pay.... but they are hard to find...I wish i had the money to help you, cause you need a lawyer to stand up for whats right....They should get you somewhere to live,car,money,untill you are able to get back on your feet..Tiffany I will prey for you & your family.. May " GOD " bless you & your family...
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