The following case summary is a good example of our office insisting upon a dismissal, even when the prosecutor and judge suggest our client should accept an infraction. Granted, such cases are not life altering and do not involve prison, but we give such cases just as much sense of urgency.
Our client, age 26, was visiting her parents, who lived in Manhattan Beach. Our client lived in Las Vegas. As luck would have it, she was pulled over by the Manhattan Beach Police Department for making a right turn where a right turn was prohibited by a sign right before the corner.
Police asked for her driver’s license, which she did not have with her. However, she told the police her name and date of birth. Police then looked up her driver’s license and were advised that it was suspended. Consequently, police ticketed our client for driving on a suspended license (Vehicle Code § 14601.1(a), a misdemeanor), driving without a valid license (Vehicle Code § 12500(a), a misdemeanor) and making a right turn against a sign prohibiting such a turn (Vehicle Code § 22101(d), an infraction). Our client signed the promise to appear later in the Torrance Superior Court. She was then released from the scene.
Before leaving Los Angeles, our client was ticketed again for the same thing in downtown Los Angeles and also signed the ticket before being released.
The client returned to Las Vegas and forgot about her two souvenirs from her short stay in Los Angeles. She lost the tickets and did not appear in court for either arraignment.
About a year later our client lost her job and applied for a new job. The new employer performed a background check and the two bench warrants were revealed. The new employer told our client it could not hire the client with such warrants outstanding.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and explained her potential new job, the Torrance case and the bench warrant outstanding. Greg explained that such cases are generally reduced to an infraction or even dismissed if the client can show the prosecutor a valid current driver’s license. In response, our client explained how she was unable to secure this because of the other criminal case.
Greg then explained judicial diversion, a new program passed into law on January 1, 2021 under Penal Code §§ 1001.95 and 1001.96. Under the program, a person facing a misdemeanor case could ask the judge to refer the matter to diversion, meaning proceedings in the case would be suspended (for up to two years) while defendant takes some classes, performs some community service (or community labor or Cal-Trans), stays away from a certain area and/or victim and pays victim restitution.
Greg explained how in our client’s case, it would be reasonable to expect she may have to take a safe driving course and perhaps, perform some community service, which she could perform in Nevada.
Upon completion of the term of diversion, the case is dismissed in the interest of justice under Penal Code § 1385, which allows defendant to request sealing of the arrest report and the court file later.
Greg then appeared on the client’s behalf and asked the judicial officer in Department 3 of the Torrance Court to recall the warrant, which then took place. Greg then requested that the judge refer the matter to judicial diversion. This request caused the judge to question why our client was not willing to simply accept a conviction for an infraction. The judge glanced over at the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor for support and she returned an exasperated expression.
Greg answered, “Your honor, my client simply wants to avoid any conviction, even for an infraction.” The judge’s response was a respectful, but hesitant, “well, O.K., that is her right, I guess.”
He then placed the client on judicial diversion for a period of six months on the condition that she enroll in and complete an online driving course and perform ten hours of community service.
Greg then shared the news with the client who was quite happy with this, as she was eager to have the case dismissed.