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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 116710
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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Last October I was driving with the learner's permit

Customer Question

Hi,Last October I was driving with the learner's permit (just had written tests done, not behind the wheels test), and was accompanied by the third party who is a licensed driver 29 years of age. So according to the law everything was alright. However I was stopped by a cop, who upon looking at my permit wrote me a misdemeanor ticket 12500(a).
I hired a layer to represent me in court, I paid $2250 for it. The lawyer went on the first date and plea not guilty. Nothing much happened since them, the next court date is on the 8th of April, they did "a request for discovery". So 8th of April will be meeting between the prosecutor and my lawyer.In the mean time my lawyer told me to get a license proper, which I did. However my lawyer didn't tell me to keep, or scan the original learner permit. So i gave it in to the DMV.
DMV destroyed this paper, and now they don't have it in the system any more.
It was explained to me, than in cases such as these a person has to prove innocence (not the vice versa).
The problem is its hard to prove innocence without that paper.
The cop wrote on the ticket that i had an Identification paper (he said its not a valid learner permit, because learner permits work only for underage people).I am 33 years of age, have had a international driver's license since 11 years (which wasn't valid at the time when the cop stopped me). I have no prior convictions or any contact with the law, and the court.It got serious now, because I am in the green card process, and my immigration attorney told me that we should wait before filing I-140 and I-485 to the USCIS because they might reject it until this issue is resolved.Its becoming nerve wrecking now. The lawyers tell me its very absurd and serious, and I understand it.
But what is there I could do?How can I resolve it quickly before going to proper trial which might take years, and jeopardize my green card.
What are the chances of me going to jail if I plea guilty?
Wold i be rejected for the green card if i do so?I really cannot believe something so silly like cop not knowing the law has become so serious for me. My whole existence in the USA is at stake at this point.
Please, I need help.
Thanks in advance,
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 1 year ago.

Good evening:

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to provide general information regarding your question. First, I am sorry to hear of the situation you are in.

From what I have read, it seems like your main issue is getting proof of your learner's permit for court purposes after the DMV destroyed your original permit.

There is a way to still show proof of the learner's permit even if you do not have the actual copy. Anytime someone has any type of license (whether it is a full license or a permit), it is noted in the individual's driving history. Thus, if you obtain your driving history (a certified, official document from the State of California), that record will show what dates you had the learner's permit and what date you had your full license.

You can obtain your Driving Record one of two ways. There are two ways to do this. Either go in to the DMV or do it by mail. Either way, one is required to fill out this form:

Doing it by mail or in person is the only way you can get a certified (i.e., official copy). Anything online will not be official.

Once you have this record, it will show when the learner's permit began and when it ended, thereby showing proof of the learner's permit on the date you were driving.

As for jail time, this would be highly unlikely for a minor offense like this. Jail time for these types of offenses are usually reserved for those individuals who repeatedly break the law or do not have a license for other more serious reasons (i.e., reckless driving, DUI, etc.).

I hope this has helped. Please let me know if you have any follow up questions based on this. I would be happy to answer them.

If not, please remember to click ACCEPT and rate my assistance as that is the only way experts here can be credited for helping individuals. Thanks!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your answer.
Oh how I wish it was so simple. I went to the DMV and for a record, but they don't have any proof that I ever acquired the learners permit. They told me its never recorded in their system. I got one online, and one in person this morning. Even the DMV on the phone told me its possible but in reality it wasn't. I have the certified copy and although it has the date when I ingrained the permit, they just say "Identification card issued", which doesn't prove anything.I don't know is it a mistake of the operator that was putting the info in the system, but it doesn't exist.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry to hear that, I am not really sure why the DMV would not have any record of the permit. Perhaps they did make an error in the input of what was given to you.

To be honest, outside of this, I would be flat out of ideas.

What I can do is opt-out, which would open the question up to another expert who may have other ideas? This new expert would have access to everything written here so you would not have to re-type anything.

Would you like me to opt-out?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 1 year ago.

Not a problem.

After I opt-out, please do not respond until you are greeted by a new expert (as this will delay the process).

Thanks again and I wish you the best of luck!

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Your previous expert was correct. I am afraid you too are correct in that in traffic court if someone does not prove they had a license/permit at the time of the violation, then the court presumes them guilty. If CA DMV has no record, your only real option is going to court to seek a deal with the prosecutor based on the mitigating factors above.
Fortunately, prosecutors DO make deals in these cases and do not want to go to trial and you SHOULD NOT JUST PLEAD GUILTY.
You should go to court and plead not guilty and you should get your attorney to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor by asking to conference with the prosecutor after entry of your not guilty plea. The attorney will explain the situation and the prosecutor can and should be able to get at the bare minimum a deferred adjudication, which is where you pay the fine but if you get no tickets in 6 months they will agree to dismiss it and it does not get reported to DMV.
Traffic citations like this one do NOT cause you to go to jail, it is a fine only in most all cases (except for repeat offenders). Furthermore, for your green card this is a criminal misdemeanor in CA and you would have to report it to USCIS, but it is not considered a "crime of moral turpitude" such that it would be grounds for revoking your status. Also, if your attorney works a plea agreement the prosecutor can change the charge to a traffic violation and not a misdemeanor meaning that it would not even have to be reported by you to USCIS.
So you have grounds here to get this resolved and you really need to use a local attorney to do so and not simply plead guilty without some deal.