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Received 2 citations totaling $1,750 for misuse of handicap…

Received 2 citations totaling...

Received 2 citations totaling $1,750 for misuse of handicap placard. However, both my spouse and I have valid handicap placards and I unknowingly used the wrong one. Our placards are identical and even start with the same 3 first numbers. We were denied the first request to dismiss the citations. There’s an appeal and then going to Superior Court is an option. What defense can I use?

Lawyer's Assistant: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.

San Francisco, California

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far?

Sent a letter for the first level appeal and it was denied. Still have a second appeal, and then the option to go to Superior.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

No. thanks.

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Answered in 4 hours by:
5/16/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,391
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today.

The best defense that you could use is one called mistake of fact. What this means is that you did not intend to break the law regarding the placards, but rather because you and your spouse have identical ones, that was the reason for this issue and therefore, it is not a crime. The mistake of fact defense tends to be used to disprove the criminal intent associated with a crime. So, because of this mistaken fact, there was no intent to break the law in this situation and thus you should be acquitted of violating the code.

Because I value your input, I would like to know whether you have any other questions for me today that I could help you with?

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you. Is there a statute we can refer to in the law itself for the mistake of fact defense? When we go in person for the Appeal, we would like to be able to refer to something specific because we will likely be dealing with a clerk and not a trained attorney or judge. And, does it help our “Mistake of Fact” defense,that the only difference between the two placards are our placard #’s which are in a font which is much smaller and far less legible than the other print on the placard? And, does it help that our placard #’s are very similar and begin with the same #’s and end with the same letter. My placard # is: 047721L and my wife’s old placard # is: 047813L. Lastly, should we mention that I have an astigmatism and have trouble seeing clearly without my glasses and was not wearing my glasses when I mistakenly took the wrong placard? Thank you!

You're welcome. Unfortunately, there isn't anything in the penal code that specifically has this as a defense. It is something created by the courts over time, but a judge should be aware of this. The law says that the court must instruct on a defense when the defendant requests it and there is substantial evidence supporting the defense so when the appeal is reviewed, the court will know.

I think the fact the #'s are so close together certainly helps. That is something you should bring up as often as possible.

Did you have any other questions for me today? If not, were you satisfied with my service today:-)?

Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,391
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Ok. Thank you very much

You bet!

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