The Anarchists – Should John and Lily Have Fled to Mexico

black sign of anarchy on an old fence. culture of anarchists, punks and street protests. Symbol of Anarchy painted on a wall

I just finished watching The Anarchists on HBO. It follows a group of anarchists who move to Acapulco and put on an anarchists convention called Anarcapulco. Two of the people it follows are a couple named John Galton and Lily Forester. These aren’t their real names. They are Americans on the run from the law. They flee to Mexico to avoid going to jail.


When the show gets into their story, it tells that they were moving and were pulled over and their vehicle was searched. The officer finds a lot of marijuana and marijuana related things and they are arrested. Lily says that they were facing 26 years in prison.


Later in the show, we learn that their real names are Shane Cress and Miranda Webb. After watching the show, I was wondering if there was anything missing from the story about their charges. 26 years in prison sounds like a long time for possessing marijuana when it’s legal in several states and when Miranda (Lily) didn’t have any criminal history.


I searched and found an article that states that they were arrested in 2015 and charged with 5 crimes. Four marijuana related charges and criminal trespassing in Portage County, Ohio. The most serious charge they faced was illegal manufacturing of drugs which is a second-degree felony. If convicted for just this charge, they would face a mandatory prison sentence of 6-18 months, according to this blog post.


I’m not licensed to practice in Ohio, so I can’t say for sure what Miranda and Shane would have actually faced. I’m pretty sure that they did not get this information from an attorney. Just looking at the charges, it seems like the only way they could have served this much time would have been if they had been convicted of every one of these crimes, sentenced to the maximum punishment, and the sentences were stacked. A stacked sentence means that they would serve the prison time for just one crime at a time, effectively adding the total punishment for all crimes together. All of this seems unlikely. It seems much more likely that they would have been offered some sort of plea that would have been much less than the maximum punishment and that any sentences run together instead of being stacked.


I think all of this misses the point of their story though. For them to go through the criminal justice system, they would have to submit to the government. There are three ways that a case can end. It can be dismissed, the state and the defendant can reach an agreement to the appropriate punishment (a plea), or the case can be resolved at trial. The only way that their cases could be resolved without them submitting to the authority of the government would be if the state dismissed their cases. It’s possible for this to happen, but most cases that I’ve seen don’t get dismissed where the defendant fails to appear to court when their supposed to be in court until they are ultimately arrested again. Again, I don’t practice in Ohio or Portage County, so I can’t say from experience how things work there. At the end of the show, the charges were still pending and she was still living in exile in Mexico.


If you’re arrested and charged with a crime, talk to a lawyer. There are a lot of people with misconceptions about what may happen in your case. Talk to an attorney who handles the type of case your being charged with in the court you’re being charged. Find out what is likely going to happen if your case goes well and what will likely happen if it doesn’t go well. For Miranda and Shane, if they found out that they may have ended up on probation, maybe they would have decided to take a plea even if it meant submitting to the authority of the government.

If you’re being charged with a crime in San Antonio or if you have any questions about this article, feel free to call me at 210-900-2806 or use the button below to schedule a free consultation.

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Sean Henricksen

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