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Universal Studios, Misuse of Disability Placard, Diversion

Our client, who is not disabled, was observed parking in a disabled person parking spot in the Woody Woodpecker Lot at Universal Studios.  He and his wife, who is also not disabled, were observed stepping away from their car and so a uniformed Los Angeles Sheriff from the West Hollywood Station approached the two.

The officer asked who the disabled person parking placard was issued to and our client’s wife said it was for her mother.  She told the officer that she was dropped off earlier when they entered Universal Studios.

The officer looked into our clients car and observed three car seats crammed into the back seat of the car, so he asked our client where his mother-in-law had been sitting.  Our client knew his wife’s lie was not believable, given the car seats, so he told the officer, “the truth is she is not here.  She is back in Montague” (a city in Siskiyou County).

The Los Angeles County Sheriff then issued our client, age 42, a ticket for violation of Vehicle Code § 4461(c), misuse of a disabled person parking placard that was issued to another person, but did not take the placard away (which is otherwise usually done).

Our client signed a promise to appear on the ticket, obligating him to appear in the Van Nuys Superior Court in about three months.

The client and his wife then moved their car to the area of the lot for people who are not disabled and continued with their visit to Universal Studios.

The next day, the client called up Greg Hill & Associates to discuss the ticket he received.  The client had no criminal history of any sort and had been working as an interpreter for the DEA for six years. 

This case was problematic for the client because a crime of dishonesty such as this could reflect poorly upon his integrity as a federal sub-contracted interpreter.

Van Nuys Courthouse

Such a conviction would stigmatize him, as well, as engaging in identity theft and or fraud, as he is not disabled.  Moreover, if the fact was revealed that he was using the disabled parking permit of his mother living hundreds of miles away in northern California, one might assume that he had used the disabled person placard regularly in other areas as well, perhaps for months or even years.  At its fundamental level, the crime suggests dishonesty and poor judgment and / or lack of empathy for those who are disabled.

Greg then explained how such tickets are generally handled at the Van Nuys Superior Court.  Greg also explained the new judicial diversion law, which was implemented first on January 1, 2021, which would apply and that Greg would request if the case was not referred for an office hearing, which Greg explained as well.

Greg then appeared at the arraignment for the client because an office hearing was not offered.

The case was assigned to a judge who Greg had known when she was a district attorney in Torrance and who Greg had even attended a fund raiser for while she was a candidate to become a judge.  Greg had even contributed a small amount of money to her campaign efforts.

The case was assigned to a district attorney who was disabled for a bulged disc and used a disabled person parking permit, so she was not too sympathetic to what our client had done, but she credited him for being honest with the deputy sheriff at the scene, unlike his wife.

She offered to amend the complaint to allege an infraction-level offense for violation of Vehicle Code § 22507.8(a), “obstructing or using a parking spot reserved for a disabled person or a disabled veteran” with a $100 fine (no penalties and assessments applied).

Due to our client’s job as a DEA interpreter, Greg asked the judge for judicial diversion instead because our client needed the case dismissed.  Any conviction, even for an infraction, might hurt his career, particularly for one such as this. 

The judge granted Greg’s oral motion for judicial diversion and offered to simply dismiss the case in 90 days if your client performed 20 hours of approved community service.  Our client was extremely happy with such terms and glad Greg did not accept the infraction, although $100 was otherwise far preferable to performing 20 hours of community service.  In this case, however, the dismissal and the automatic sealing of the record (erasing or deleting the record of the case having been ever filed, as is available with judicial diversion under Penal Code §§ 1001.95 to 1001.97) was priceless for our client.

For more information about illegal use of a disability placard and the other issues in this case, please click on the following articles:
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"Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well." S.A., Torrance
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