Getting a parking ticket is annoying. It can be embarrassing. Worse, it can wind up costing a great deal of money. If you think you didn’t deserve the citation, you can appeal to the city. Regardless, the last thing a driver might expect is that a parking violation could result in serious criminal charges.
It can, however, as one recent item in the news attests. From the legal perspective, the key thing to learn from this event may be that any encounter with police has potential to create situations that require a more robust defense of your individual rights than is available through worcesterma.gov.
Case in point
As evidence, consider this case out of Brockton, Massachusetts. In it, an alleged parking violation led to the driver’s arrest and trial on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon against the parking enforcement officer. The problem is that there was no justification for the citation to begin with.
The driver, an amputee and handicapped parking permit holder, was sitting in his car, legally parked in a handicapped zone. When the officer appeared and began filling out a ticket, the driver showed he had his permit. The two men then exchanged some heated words. At one point, the officer used a racial slur to refer to the driver.
It appears no ticket was issued, but the officer did file a police report claiming the driver had brandished a knife during the altercation. Hence the criminal charge. He was acquitted at trial, with the judge declaring that the officer’s version of events was a fabrication. Since then, the driver has filed suit against the city and the officer is facing being fired.
This is not something to dismiss as an isolated incident. Police often use minor violations as pretexts to justify more aggressive action and some courts have shown a willingness to grant deference to authorities in using such practices.
What’s clear is that seemingly insignificant issues can unexpectedly blossom into something much worse. Considering the array of possible negative consequences, anyone with questions should make a point of consulting a skilled attorney to understand their rights and options.