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Vijay Dinakar
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Vijay Dinakar’s Answers

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  • Hi, I am an Indian resident, just visited California for 2 weeks and driving in CA with a valid Indian Drivers Lic

    Traffic cop pulled me over for lane change without an indicator, but mentioned Indian driver lic in valid and gave me a ticket as misdemeanor "NOT LICENCED", and lane change as Infraction. Now I am in India, and some $700+ has been put as fine. ...

    Vijay’s Answer

    You should hire an attorney to deal with this matter. Legally if you fail to appear by the scheduled date, a warrant may issue (even on an infraction charge although typically in most counties, the court simply imposes a civil assessment (fine increase) for failing to attend court on a traffic case). If the court issues a warrant (because you're charged with a misdemeanor or because the court issues a warrant for failing to appear on an infraction), this may cause problems in re-entering the country and may potentially have immigration consequences. Best bet is to hire an attorney, there's no need to come back to the states to get an attorney to dismiss this case. All the best.

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  • In your experience, what percent of the time do police officers show up to trial for a speeding ticket?

    Assuming it is a "typical" speeding violation (ie speed was under 100 mph, no alcohol involved, etc.)?

    Vijay’s Answer

    For some reason the criminally accused want criminal attorneys to hazard % estimates as to the likely outcomes of certain events occurring; i.e., "what's the % chance likelihood of getting acquitted/convicted/case dismissed/ect". Since I'm asked this kind of question so often, I now rely on one of three pat answers (or a combination thereof): 1. impossible to predict, 2. more likely than not, 3. or less likely than not. I'd say the answer is generally 1 but 2 is likely accurate (but I've seen no reliable published data to justify 2, simply anecdotal and from talking to other lawyers). Regardless, in criminal practice and surely in any law practice, the prudent strategy is to assume (and prepare) for the worst and hope for the best. Prepare for the cop being present, and pray he/she doesn't show. Best of luck.

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  • Will I go to Jail for petty theft?

    I was caught stealing 382$ worth of merchandise from Kohls. It is my first offense and I have never been in trouble with the law before.

    Vijay’s Answer

    Jail is unlikely but if you are convicted of petty theft, there could be other serious ramifications to your job and potentially immigration status. You should hire an attorney who can work to keep your record clean. All the best

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  • Is this a viable defense to beat a speeding ticket?

    Two people are driving on a freeway going well above the speed limit. A police airplane overhead catches them speeding and dispatches a squad car to pull the car over and issue a speeding citation. Knowing that the police plane saw them, the two...

    Vijay’s Answer

    In California, the government must prove each and every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict, even in infraction vehicle cases. The first element to prove speeding is that the individual charged must have been driving, being a passenger in a speeding car is not a crime. On the facts presented, there is no way to prove this element of the crime at trial, regardless if the officer cites one or both of the persons. Neither individuals is required to say anything to the police and neither is required to testify at trial. However, this fact pattern is not as interesting as you might think because your hypothetical excludes the common element of officer 'testilying'. If the officer got to the scene and neither party would admit driving, he would have two choices: 1. cite neither party knowing that he'd never be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who was driving at trial without an admission or 2. decide one of the parties was the driver (likely the person in whose name the car is registered) and testify at trial that one or both parties admitted the registered car owner was driving. Once officer chooses 2 at trial, remaining silent (or testifying) will almost certainly result in a guilty verdict for the charged person given how much credibility courts place in sworn officer testimony. Before officer cites one of the party's (with the idea that he will "testilie" if needed) he will likely tell the two individuals choosing to remain silent at the scene something like, "if you guys don't tell me who was driving, I'm gonna cite the registered owner and you guys can sort it out later"). In dealing with cops, one can never assume that they will tell the truth. But to answer the question, if the officer and judge honestly operate in good faith no ticket would be issued and if issued, the case should not result in a conviction at trial.

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  • Petty theft issue for college student

    I am doing masters of sciences in Fremont, CA. involved in petty theft at Target store worth of around $50. police office suggested me to attend court in next 2 weeks. my questions are 1. do I need to hire lawyer or I can explain my situ...

    Vijay’s Answer

    You should certainly hire an attorney to fight this case. You should definitely not attempt to "explain your situation" (presumably to a judge). If you are convicted, there is no way to erase this from record, although there is a post-conviction dismissal procedure pursuant to pc 1203.4 (but this has no effect on immigration). All the best.

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  • Can I file a P C 851.8 if the incident happen 25 years ago??

    was arrester wrongly office thought I was a different person. same last name once I got the police station they found out I was not the person they were looking for.

    Vijay’s Answer

    You can file the motion but it quite unlikely to be granted given that the prosecutor will likely raise the statute of limitations issue, which is 2 years. 851.8(l) does go on to say regarding the statute of limitations that, "any time restrictions on filing for relief under this section may be waived upon a showing of good cause by the petitioner and in the absence of prejudice". In reality, unless the district attorney does not oppose or positively supports your petition, you will have little chance. In order to get no opposition or support from the DA, you realistically will need to hire an attorney who can investigate the facts of the case and attempt to convince the DA that you're innocent before filing a motion. In some cases this can occur but the kind of proof that you'll need must be overwhelming dispositive proof of your innocence (like DNA evidence or someone else was subsequently prosecuted and convicted of a crime you could not have partaken in), not even significant compelling proof of your innocence will do when you have to convince the DA given that the statute of limitations is way past over. It might be worthwhile to consult an attorney regarding this but the chances of success are quite remote. All the best.

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  • Have you been arrested,cited,charged,indicted,fined,or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance ?

    I was arrested for DUI in California in 2011, but there was not prosecution. Should I answer yes or no to that question ?

    Vijay’s Answer

    You must answer yes. This sounds like an immigration question. Answering falsely on an immigration application may create a basis for denial even in a case, as here, where revealing the fact in question (an arrest not leading to a conviction) would have no effect on your immigration application. Answer truthfully, you were arrested.

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  • I am severley disabled and cant afford my ticket

    I have no criminal history and I am a new driver. I recently got a ticket for driving my car in the carpool lane, I've only had my license for about 4-5 months and I thought prius can be driven in the carpool lane. Anyway I got a ticket on the bay...

    Vijay’s Answer

    You need the appropriate sticker for a qualifying car in order to be able to drive in the carpool lane. Not all Prius' qualify, some do. Perhaps your car does qualify, entitling you to drive in the carpool lane. If true, you should get the appropriate sticker and then go to court and ask the court for a reduction in the fine. The fact that your car qualified, doesn't mean the ticket retroactively goes away but it does mean that had you been diligent, you would've been able to drive in the carpool lane, perhaps the judge will chop some $ off the fine if you act contrite and non-entitled but perhaps not. If your car isn't allowed to drive in carpool, your only option is to go court and ask for a fine reduction or to convert fine to community service. There is also the possibility of getting a monthly payment plan to make payment more doable. All the best.

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  • I purchased greater than 9 grams of sudafed in a 30 day period. Will they come to my house and arrest me or investigate me?

    I purchase sudafed regularly every month. I have done this for 3 years. I do not manufacture methamphetamine. I do not have any methamphetamine related charges. I just like to take the sudafed to help me study. 3 days ago, I went over the legal li...

    Vijay’s Answer

    I don't doubt that you use sudafed as a (legal) study aid given that sudafed contains pseudoephedrine which is a stimulant of the
    phenethylamine and amphetamine classes. However you should not doubt that you live under a regime that is a global outlier in its zealous prosecution of the insane war on drugs and any chance it gets to arrrest, incarcerate, and or deny you any real prospect of employment it will do so. If you are a minority and or poor you are more likely to be searched, arrested and end up a victim of the drug war. While I would assume all stimulants pose some health risks, there are many politically correct substances which will not subject you to legal risk, some require no prescription (coffee and nicotine) while others require a Dr. prescription often on triplicate form with no refill possible (methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, amphetamine salts, ect.). Avoid the politically incorrect substances and obey all laws related to prescription and legal purchase limits for prescription and over the counter drugs if you want to avoid the drug warriors. If you're ever contacted by cops for any reason, don't say anything except that you want a lawyer. Nobody knows if cops are investigating you or whether you will ever be contacted by them. All the best.

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