Lisa Is Not Guilty

My sister-in-law Lisa is an amazing woman. The kind of person parents want their daughters to be when they grow up. She graduated top of her Class from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Landscape Architecture, got an MBA and designs landscapes and site plans for the mega rich.. The kind of person who would never, ever, ever get arrested.

Lisa was recently arrested. Her case shows why people need criminal defense lawyers. It also shows why people hate cops and courts and the government. Here it is:

About a year ago Lisa got a traffic ticket on the New York Thruway. It was in one of those towns that lives off the speeding ticket income and has about 250 residents. They have court about once a month and gross 1.5 million in revenue from guilty pleas on speeding tickets. I represented her and we got a nice reduction by mail. Lisa mailed in the fine and all was good in the world.

Fast forward to Midnight on Sunday December 30, 2013. Lisa makes the seven hour drive home from Rochester. About a mile from her house she is stopped by police for going 60 in a posted 50 zone (wow- bet that cop never goes 10 over). So be it – holiday season, long drive, pretty woman, local resident who needs to be at work in less than 8 hours – sounds like “slow down ma’am and get home safe” to me. Wrong.

Instead, Mr. Patrolman, starts flashing his flashlight around the car. He is convinced he sees a bottle of drugs in the back seat so he calls for backup. They pressure for consent to search the car. Turns out it was antibiotics prescribed by her doctor. Seems like he could have just asked.

Not to be deterred Mr. Patrolman starts searching Lisa’s records on his cop car computer. Bingo. Now he has her. She has a suspension for an unpaid ticket in New York. She must pay. Out of the car, into handcuffs …which are “checked for tightness” – what a gentleman. He arrests her, takes her to booking, tows her car and gives her one phone call.This is ridiculous. There is precisely zero need to handcuff this person or book them immediately on this charge. This is exactly why appearance tickets were created.

Here is where it gets interesting – there was no suspension. Her prior lawyer (me) got proof of ticket being paid and proof of compliance with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Either Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles or Mr. Patrolman screwed up. Which was good news for Lisa. However, she had to wait 10 days to go to court. Without a license getting to work 30 minutes away was really tough. She missed time, plus a vacation because she had to make up time. Imagine how much fun it is to tell the boss “I won’t be at work because I got arrested….but it’s a mistake….really.”

So she goes to court with proof that the cop messed up. The charges are dismissed on the spot. Does that undo the humiliation of being handcuffed at midnight, searched or missing work. No. Then to top it off the Cops won’t release her car from the impound without the $150 fee being paid. They say it was DMV’s fault, get them to pay the fee.

People think that everyone that gets arrested is guilty. They think cops are always good. I know better – now Lisa does too.


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