Jail cellWithout a background in criminal law it may not seem strange to hear that someone is not always charged immediately upon arrest, and in fact this is not always the case but there are limits. Recently an Arizona man filed a lawsuit against Box Elder County, Utah alleging that he was jailed for 17 days without access to legal assistance or having charges brought against him.

Robert Kulchcinski filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court Friday against Box Elder County, Box Elder County Jail, and the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office packed with constitutional and state violations as well as an allegation of false imprisonment. After being arrested for allegedly swerving on the freeway while driving an 18-wheeler, Kulchcinski spent over two weeks in a jail cell without a clue as to why he was being held.

Jailed for Suspicion of Driving While Impaired With 0.0 BAC

Kulchcinski swerved as a result of reaching to the backseat of his vehicle. He was stopped by a Utah High Patrolman that had received a tip from another driver who thought Kulchcinski was impaired while driving. He was cited for failure to stay in one lane and was also given a breathalyzer test. Subsequently the trooper also administered standard field sobriety tests which apparently indicated intoxication, though Kulchcinski says that his lack of balance was attributable to an inner ear infection. Kulchcinski was arrested for suspicion of driving while impaired and later jailed.

After entering the jail, Kulchcinski provided a sample of his blood for alcohol analysis (the results of which showed a 0.0 blood-alcohol level) and “from that time until 17 days later, he remained incarcerated in the Box Elder County Jail.” Also “at no time was he brought before a judge for arraignment and at no time was he formally charged with any crime other than the traffic citation, a mere infraction. Likewise, he was not afforded an opportunity to confer with counsel."

As a result of his unlawful detainment Kulchcinski lost his job and it caused him severe mental trauma and anxiety. You don’t have to be a lawyer or law student to realize that this blatant violation of various constitutional rights is quite troubling. Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield declined to comment, though I would be quite interested to hear what he has to say on the matter. Even if Mr. Kulchcinski had been impaired and his BAC test had come back with anything more than 0.0, the lack of charges or permission to speak to counsel is simply inappropriate. It is circumstances such as this that our Constitution seeks to guard against. Hopefully justice will be done and a lesson will be learned by those in Box Elder County.