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Woman Arrested for Trying to Take Free Flights

A woman described as a “serial stowaway” has been arrested yet again after her ankle monitor malfunctioned. Marilyn Hartmann, who claims she has taken over 30 free flights, will now face charges of criminal trespass after wandering off from her halfway house. She was spotted by TSA and authorities were notified that the woman was in the airport. Hartmann is facing felony charges from a prior attempt to stowaway aboard a plane. Prosecutors will likely file more felony charges against the woman. 

The same woman was the subject of an interview broadcast on television where she told reporters that she began hopping planes in 2002. Hartmann has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but that likely will not help her after repeated attempts to violate the same law.

Will a Mental Health Defense Work?

Mental health defenses are most successful when it is the defendant’s first offense. By the time they have committed their third or fourth defense, their health care providers will likely inform law enforcement that they are not being compliant with their treatment.

In a typical mental health defense, the defendant will assure the court that they will keep up with their treatment, continue to take medication as prescribed, and ensure that unwanted behaviors no longer occur. In this case, you have a defendant who is committing the same type of crime over and over again, not keeping up with her treatment, and not ensuring that the unwanted behavior does not happen again. 

On the one hand, she is probably harmless. On the other hand, she is stealing services and accessing areas that have been safeguarded due to terrorism. So, you would not necessarily want to permanently commit her, but she keeps doing the same thing wrong over and over again. 

Court Involvement in Mental Health Cases

Certain types of nonviolent offenses, including and perhaps especially trespassing, can find their way into mental health court. Typically, the defendant agrees to sign a contract in which the prosecutor requires them to meet treatment criteria and not re-offend. If the defendant violates the terms of the contract, they will find themselves facing both the old charges and potentially new charges that trigger the contract violation. In this case, it looks like the defendant has spent her last second chance. The court will likely not give her another. While a mental health facility may be more appropriate than a prison, the facility will be heavily restricted. It will be more like a prison than the type of facility you are used to seeing on television or in the movies. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have taken several flights around the world without paying and were caught again for the same crime, then you will need a criminal defense lawyer. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to discuss your situation in more detail and allow us to begin preparing your defense. We can help.

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