Woman turns life around, says crime she didn't commit still follows her

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A straight A student who consistently makes the dean's list -- that's the life Monique Lawrence now finds herself living. Ask her and she'll tell you it's a far cry from the moments she spent in and out of Miami-Dade Corrections facilities following theft and weapons arrests.    

Lawrence said she's not perfect.

"I don't claim to be," she added.

At 51, she's now enrolled at Florida International University, pursuing a degree in social work.

"I really want to work with juveniles," she said. "I have something to offer someone."

When we first met Lawrence, she was getting ready to apply for internships.

She said part of that process involved pulling up her criminal history.

"And I'm like, these are not supposed to be on my background," she said, referring to a robbery and burglary arrest dating back nearly 17 years.

"I cleared this up 17 years ago," she said. "Or, so I thought."

Lawrence told the Leave it to Layron team that she went out one night 17 years ago and lost her ID.  

A 2001 Miami Shores police report we obtained details how, around that same time, two women tried shoplifting from a Miami Shores beauty supply store.

The owners confronted the alleged shoplifters and there was a fight outside in the parking lot. Both women were eventually arrested, including a Monique Adam. 

According to the police report, Monique Adam's ID, along with a number of other people's IDs, were found in a handbag that was eventually logged in as evidence. 

"I was married and my name at the time was Monique Adam," Lawrence said.

But she was adamant the strong-arm robbery and assault detailed in that police report was committed by someone else.

"There's no way in the world I went anywhere and did what they say in this police report," she said. "No, sir. Not me."

She recalled even going to Miami Shores police headquarters 17 years ago, where she was fingerprinted. She said she went after she was ordered to appear in court on those shoplifting charges. 

"I just want this to be gone off my record," she said. "That's it."

The LITL team contacted the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, which poured over Lawrence's arrest records, dating back more than 25 years.

In five of those cases, including the burglary and assault charges, no action was taken. In one of those cases, officials confirmed what Lawrence told the LITL team. She'd been given an opportunity to participate in a pre-trial intervention program, which resulted in no prosecution. 

County corrections officials also compared old mugshots and found no discrepancies.

The LITL team learned under Florida law, Lawrence is eligible to have one of her cases, either sealed or expunged.  

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website, "A person may only seal or expunge one arrest record in one proceeding. But, more than one arrest record may be sealed or expunged in a single proceeding if the court, in its sole discretion, finds the arrests in question to be directly related.” 
We shared that information with Lawrence. 

"I just want to be happy," she said. "I'm graduating from college. This is something that I've always wanted to do. This means a lot to me. Whoever this person is, it wasn't me back then, and it's not me now."

She tells us she expects to graduate this spring.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a program to help with identity theft claims and people whose identities may have been used in an arrest record. Click here for more information. 

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