Sometimes, even when criminal charges are dropped, the long term consequences of an accusation can continue and create extensive negative impacts in a defendant's life. This pattern affects all sorts of defendants, including celebrities like Lucky Whitehead, a former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver who was dismissed from the team after Whitehead was wrongly implicated in a Virginia convenience store theft that occurred in June of 2017.
According to the police report, a man was arrested at the scene of the theft, in which less than $40 worth of food and drinks were stolen from a Wawa gas station convenience store in Virginia. The man gave the police information matching Lucky Whitehead, including his name, social security number, and date of birth, at which time he was arrested. However, according to Whitehead's lawyer, Dave Rich, Whitehead was not even in Virginia at the time of the arrest and that the true perpetrator's name is Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr., not Lucky Whitehead.
“Officers acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided,” Sergeant Jonathan Perok said. “The police department is currently seeking the identity of the man involved in the incident.” Perok added that the police have “no idea” how the perpetrator got a hold of Lucky's personal identifying information.
Although the police have since cleared Lucky Whitehead's name, Whitehead has been let go from the Dallas Cowboys. According to news sources, during the walkthrough on the first day of practice for the season, Lucky “was escorted off the field by a member of the public relations staff...he was unaware of the arrest before being told as he left the practice field.” His lawyer, Rich, claimed that another individual had stolen Whitehead's identity, which has since been confirmed.
Whitehead was adamant that he was not in the state at the time of the incident. He told a news source, "I don't know who got arrested in Virginia. But it wasn't me. I NEVER once had an altercation with the cops. And come to find out, this happened, they say, at 1:34 a.m. at a Wawa in Woodbridge, Virginia [on a day] that I was in Dallas until 11:20 a.m." Although his name has been cleared in association with the event, he has not been offered his job back at the Dallas Cowboys.
Whitehead feels that his employer failed to give him the benefit of the doubt when he was accused of theft, even though he had not been convicted of any crime. Many people who have been charged with crimes go through a similar process, in which the stigma of a charge has dramatic effects on the way they are treated by their community and employer. Aggressively fighting criminal charges can significantly impact a defendant's future and their social standing.