Rendolyn W. Amaker, 43, was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after she allegedly tried to rent a car at the airport using another person’s driver’s license and credit card. Amaker has been released from jail after posting a $2,000.00 bond.
According to the Broward County Clerk of Courts, Amaker was booked for one count of grand theft auto and one count of possession of a fraudulent driver’s license. Both offenses are third degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison each. Therefore, her total prison exposure maxes out at ten years.
However, in my experience, people with these types of charges rarely go to prison, especially as first time offenders. Realistically, an experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to resolve her case to nothing more than a short term of probation at the very worst.
However, if Amaker has a criminal history, things may be different. According to records obtained from the Broward Clerk of Courts, Amaker has no known criminal history in Broward County. Since she is employed by the Broward School Board as a principal at North Fork Elementary School, odds are her criminal history as already been checked and there is none. While it is not impossible, it is unlikely that the School Board would have hired her with a criminal history.
Ultimately, this case has two clear possibilities. Either Amaker was being honest and this entire incident comes down to a misunderstanding or she really was trying to pull a fast one on the car rental place. Therefore, developing a strong defense will either be very easy or absolutely impossible, based on evidence obtained from driving records and the credit card company.
Insofar as a defense is concerned, I would want to hear more about Amaker’s maiden name and how she came to possess the drivers license of a 67 year old woman named Ruth Williams. According to the police report, Amaker tried to convince the arresting officer that her maiden name was Ruth Williams.
Insofar as Amaker is concerned, this case will be really easy to prove one way or another. First, he drivers license history must be searched. If her maiden name really was Ruth Williams then it will be easy to determine if the license in her hand really was hers. Same thing goes for the credit card. By issuing a subpoena for credit card records, it is very easy to determine if the credit card was legitimately in her possession.
However, defense lawyers will still need to determine why the drivers license listed an age of 67. Believe it or not such errors do occur on drivers licenses. In fact, I have a childhood friend whose U.S. passport listed him as female. We made fun of him for it all the time. Regardless, clerical errors do occur… even at the DMV.
Again, the truth will be very easy to ascertain.
At the end of the day, I predict Amaker’s charges will either be dropped entirely or she will be placed on probation. If this is her first felony, she will be entitled to a withhold adjudication, which means she will not become a convicted felon or lose her rights. In fact, if she is able to obtain a withhold adjudication, she will be able to seal and expunge this case from her criminal history.
Finally, even if the license and the credit card were not hers, defense lawyers would need to conduct depositions to determine exactly how she tried to rent the car with the bad credentials. To sustain a charge of grand theft auto, prosecutors must prove very specific facts. In the absence of even one such fact, the entire case may be at jeopardy for the State.
Ultimately, Amaker’s attorney will need to conduct a thorough case analysis and investigation. The outcome of this case will ultimately depend on the findings of that analysis and investigation.
Regardless, even if Amaker did do wrong, her years as a successful school teacher should be considered by any judge when entering a sentence on these charges.