Charges dropped against Michigan mom who took teen daughter's cellphone

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Charges were dismissed Wednesday against a Michigan woman who took away her 15-year-old daughter's cellphone as punishment, WOOD reported.

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Jodie May of Grandville said she “was just being a mom” when she took her daughter’s iPhone 6 away in April after the girl got in trouble at school, the television station reported.

"I would like answers on why it got so far and how it got this far where this happened within my home, I'm disciplining my child, then I'm the one being handcuffed," May told WOOD.

May's ex-husband claimed the phone belonged to him and said May's punishment was a crime, WOOD reported. The man filed a complaint with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office and May was arrested May 12.

May said she was nursing her 4-week-old baby when an Ottawa County deputy knocked on her door.

"He had told me that he was going to arrest me, and I asked him if I could turn myself in on that Monday by myself, that I had a new baby. She wasn't taking the bottle yet," May, who has remarried, told the television station. "He said it doesn't work that way, it was a slow night, so he was out doing his list of warrants and he was scheduled to pick me up."

May was released on a $200 bond but faced a misdemeanor charge of larceny that was punishable by up to 93 days in prison, the television station reported.

Prosecutors added a second charge before May’s trial began Tuesday, accusing May of larceny by conversion, a crime also carrying a jail term up to 93 days.

Prosecutors then approached the judge and requested the charges be dismissed because May's ex-husband did not own the phone. Her daughter did, as she received the phone as a Christmas gift from her father. May said her daughter paid for her share of the phone bill, WOOD reported.

"I've had an opportunity to discuss this case with the victim in this case, or at least the person we believed owned the property," Ottawa County Assistant Prosecutor Sarah Matwiejczyk told the judge.

"The mother defendant being the mother of the minor child, I believe that changes the case significantly," Matwiejczyk said. "Therefore we're requesting that the charges be dismissed."

May was relieved and told WOOD that "Mom prevailed."

"I think it's ridiculous," May told the television station. "I can't believe I had to be put through it, my daughter had to be put through it, my family. I'm very surprised, but I'm very happy with the outcome."

Jennifer Kuiper-Weise, May's court-appointed attorney, a former assistant prosecutor in Ottawa County, told WOOD she was ready for a court fight.

"We knew this was parental discipline," Kuiper-Weise said. "We knew that it would come across that way."

In an email to WOOD, Ottawa County Prosecutor Ronald Frantz said May never told the original investigating deputy that she had taken the phone to punish her daughter. In fact, nothing like that is mentioned in the report.

"Clearly, if a parent takes away a child's cellphone as a matter of reasonable parental discipline, not only would we not charge, but the police would not request a charge," Frantz wrote in an email.

"I believe the prosecutor knew the whole time," May said Wednesday. "It was an easy question to have answered. (The assistant prosecutor) could have asked my ex-husband, his wife, me.

"I think this all could have been avoided if she would have dotted her i's and crossed her t's. She would have found the answers where everything could have been avoided."

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