Our client, age 37, had no prior criminal history and had been employed with a Northern California county government for nearly 20 years. Her cousin had recently passed away, leaving a seven-year-old daughter.
The young girl had hip problems that rendered her disabled. Her mom, before she passed away, had always had a blue handicapped person parking permit to make parking easier on account of her daughter’s hip issues.
When our client’s cousin passed away, our client came down to Southern California and decided to take the young girl to Universal Studios for fun. Our client took her deceased cousin’s blue handicapped parking placard to use because she had the disabled girl with her.
While parking in the Frankenstein parking lot, our client used the blue handicapped parking placard to park in a parking stall reserved for disabled people. Our client, who is not disabled, exited her car and then helped out the disabled girl.
At that time, a Los Angeles County Sheriff, working from the West Hollywood substation, approached our client and asked if your client was the placard owner. Our client explained that she was not, but that the owner had recently passed away, but the placard was for parking with the disabled girl, who was with our client.
The county sheriff then lectured our client on misuse of such a placard and issued our client a ticket for violation of California Vehicle Code § 4461(c), misuse of a disabled person parking permit. The client then signed a promise to appear in the Van Nuys Superior Court for an arraignment in about three months. The county sheriff then left our client and her disabled niece.
Weeks later, our client called Greg Hill & Associates and explained what had happened. She also explained her employment situation and how she feared losing her job if convicted of a misdemeanor or having her boss believe she was insensitive to the rights and difficulties of a disabled person.
Greg explained how such cases were handled by the District Attorney’s office in Van Nuys and the new judicial diversion law that just started on January 1, 2021, under Penal Code §§ 1001.95 to 1001.97. Greg explained that the prosecutor handling such cases in Van Nuys was disabled, so she was particularly sensitive to this violation, but she was generally reasonable.
Greg also explained how such cases might be referred to an office hearing for informal resolution with a conference call with a senior prosecutor or retired judge without ever being filed in court.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates. Greg immediately wrote the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in Van Nuys and requested an office hearing to resolve the matter, explaining that our client had no criminal history and that she had a disabled child in the car, so the parking was not at the expense of any disabled person. In other words, there had been a good faith use of the placard for a legitimate reason, despite the placard being issued in the name of someone else.
The Van Nuys office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney did not respond to our suggestion to resolve the case through an office hearing.
So, Greg did appear on the client’s behalf at the arraignment. The district attorney assigned to the case was indeed the one with a disability and she was reasonable, offering to resolve the case with our client pleading instead to an infraction for violation of an infraction, not a misdemeanor, with a $100 fine and no penalties or assessments. The plea would be to a violation of Vehicle Code § 22507.8(a), obstructing or using a parking stall reserved for a disabled person or disabled veteran.
This fine, the reader might recognize, would be far less than the fine of $250 plus penalties and assessments (total of about $1,000) for parking in a disabled person parking spot, so the district attorney expected her offer would resolve the case.
Greg politely declined the offer, explaining that our client’s criminal history was clean and she wanted to keep it that way for employment purposes.
Greg therefore asked the judge for judicial diversion for our client. The judge granted this request, offering to dismiss the case if our client performed 20 hours of approved community service. The client was extremely happy that Greg sought judicial diversion instead and was more than happy to perform 20 hours of community service to avoid any conviction.
For more information about illegal use of a disability placard and the other issues in this case, please click on the following articles: