HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – Carlee Russell was arrested Friday on two misdemeanor charges related to her faked kidnapping on July 13. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was invited in by the Hoover Police Department to prosecute the case.
Marshall said it’s common for attorney generals to take on cases like these, but some other prosecutors can’t remember the last time an attorney general took on a misdemeanor case.
“We will continue to monitor this investigation to determine whether or not there are any additional charges that need to be brought, and we’ll evaluate those as the facts are presented,” Marshall said.
Alabama law states falsely reporting an incident and falsely reporting to law enforcement are Class A misdemeanors — the same classification as domestic violence, some assault and some theft.
“Judging from the amount of phone calls and emails we’ve received from all over the country, I know many are shocked and appalled that Ms. Russell is only being charged with two misdemeanors despite all the panic and disruption her actions caused,” HPD Chief Nick Derzis said. “Let me assure you, I too share the same frustration.”
Former U.S. prosecutor Raymond Johnson said attorney generals have concurrent jurisdiction, meaning they can be invited onto a case by a municipality. Carlee Russell’s case will be handled in municipal court instead of district court, which Derzis said is because of the charges being only misdemeanor.
“Why not let the district attorney handle this?” Johnson said. “As I said, the district attorney has capable and skilled prosecutors at the district attorney’s office that can prosecute this case very successfully if they wish to do so.”
During Friday’s press conference, the HPD said it wanted to go before legislators this fall to ask them to change state law, creating harsher punishments for people who falsely report kidnapping and other violent crimes.