Most of the time when I watch a movie or TV show where someone is wrongfully accused, I tend to think to myself - "Whatever. They are still guilty in some way". Part of me wants to think that there is no way on earth that people who are actually 100% innocent can be found guilty of something they didn't do.
However, as fate would have it - if I ever do meet someone like that, I will have a measure of empathy for them. What am I talking about? Well - let me tell you a little story.
A few years back - I was driving on my way to go and visit my parents at their home across the street from the Idaho Falls temple. They were living there as they were serving as the President and Matron of the temple at the time. I was in my suburban with babies in the car with me, I was heading west on Broadway. I came to the light to turn right onto Memorial Drive. It was yellow and so I slowed down and turned right. The light went red as I was mostly turned RIGHT into the RIGHT HAND LANE on Memorial. About 5 seconds later I see lights flashing behind me. A cop who had been directly behind me pulled me over.
So I dutifully pull over and he comes up to me and I am absolutely baffled with what he could possible be pulling me over for. I was thinking to myself how I was certain that the registration was up to date and on the plates and how insurance was up to date and for crying out loud, I even had my seatbelt on. So he comes up and asks for my license, registration, proof of insurance, etc. As I hand it all to him, here is our conversation...
Cop: "Do you realize that the light was red just now when you turned?"
Me: "Well, it was yellow when I turned RIGHT, and that is why I slowed down and made sure nobody was in the path. I was under the impression that it is legal to make a right turn on a red light if you check first."
Cop: "Well, I don't know where you are from, but here in Idaho you have to be completely over the crosswalk lines on the road that you are turning onto BEFORE it turns red."
Me: " Ummmm.... (*trying hard to breath and keep my cool and to not laugh at this over-eager officer*) Well, I thought that as long as you were over the first line with the front of your car while it is YELLOW, then you are OK." (And inside I am wanting to yell "EVEN WHEN GOING STRAIGHT THROUGH AN INTERSECTION...THIS WAS A RIGHT TURN FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS.....")
Cop: "I am going to have to issue you a citation for this infraction because the back end of your trailer hitch was not completely over the last line when it turned red."
Me: "O Kaaaay."
Cop:(writes out the ticket and hands it to me)
Me:"Can you please show me where your badge number is written on here?"
Cop:Points it out.
Me: "And where do I go to if I want to contest this?"
Cop: (explains courthouse procedure - seems a little flustered) "Have a nice day!"
Me: "Um Hm."
Seriously - can you believe it? First off, why do cops tell people that right after ruining their day? Do they get some sick twisted pleasure out of it? Secondly - WHAT THE CRAP is that excuse of a ticket?
So - I go to my parents all flustered and tell them what just happened and how I want to go to court and fight this because it is ridiculous. They just listen to me and were a little annoyed for me.
Later I explain to Greg what happened as well. Everyone I tell about it is equally shocked about the frivolous/seemingly made-up excuse for a ticket.
Here's a little tidbit about me that maybe some of you don't know yet: I DON'T GIVE IN EASILY.
My hubby and others were just like, "It's just so much easier to pay the fee and have it be over with."
Well, I couldn't let it rest. So - I begin to do my private investigating into the matter, reading state statutes, codes, laws, etc. I immediately look up the code for the violation that he wrote on the ticket.
Imagine my surprise when I read the definition of the code that he wrote on my ticket:
"PEDESTRIAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL"
What the aitch? Seriously? I read it over and over and asked everyone around me to read the cops' handwriting to double check it and YES - that is what he wrote. I was so disturbed by this. I went to the court to enter my NOT GUILTY plea and to say that I was NOT going to pay the money and to set up a time to meet with the lawyer/judge, etc about rectifying this. Nobody seemed to think it was a big deal - like it was just a silly mistake, etc.
Well here is the point that I want to share with people about this fact - if you have ever just had a 'simple' ticket issued to you and you call the number on the back and just pay the fee - for a speeding ticket or whatever it is... you are ADMITTING GUILT by default when you pay anything.
So what that means is that if I would have simply gone home and been upset about it but just paid the stupid ticket fee to get it over with (which is EXACTLY what my hubby and other 'non-confrontational people I know would have done) - then I would have been admitting guilt to a MISDEMEANOR of being a pedestrian under the influence of drugs or alcohol and it would have been on my record forever and I would never have even known it!!!
So - my court date comes and I take all of my research in and I meet with the legal person who goes over the case before it goes to a judge. Well, just explaining to her the reason that I was pulled over and ticketed for - she nearly rolled her eyes right there and just sorta blew off the situation as an over-zealous cop for whatever reason. Then I showed her what code he had written down on the ticket right next to "failure to yield at red light". She read it out loud and then I showed her the sheet of codes that I had printed up and asked her to read it. I was like, "Can you tell me how a person can be driving a car and a pedestrian at the same time?" She was shocked at the "mistake" and immediately wrote down on her paper that my case was dismissed.
I was not satisfied at that action. I looked at her in the eyes and told her that while I was appreciative of her common sense in dismissing the case, I also wanted that cop to be reprimanded for his actions/negligence. She said that she would have it brought to his attention.
I went home and felt vindicated and happy that I had done my research and stood my ground. I sort of forgot about the whole incident over the years. Recently I began my application for BYU-Idaho so that I can start the online RN to BSN program. One of the things that I have to do is a Certified Background Check. Today I get the notification that it had gone through to the school. I clicked on the link and clicked on the "view results" tab so I could print a copy for my own records.
Imagine my SURPRISE once again to see a "YES" under the criminal records results.
Bonneville County, Idaho.
Date of infraction, etc.
"Pedestrian Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol".
WHAT THE AITCH? I was so fuming mad about this whole thing. Yes, it does say "dismissed" on there, I do realize that. But what ticks me off is the very fact that it is on my record. Period.
It doesn't even matter that it says dismissed in small letters a few lines underneath it. It matters to me that I even have a freaking criminal record.
So - I am not sure what will be my next step in this. I didn't make it to the courthouse today or to talk with a lawyer. But I am feeling like I want to sue that cop for 'emotional distress' after the amount of sugar intake I have had today. At the very least, I want to get it completely EXPUNGED off of my record. Also - an apology would be nice. I want to go and find that cop and show him a copy of my records and ask him how he would feel if it were his own daughter applying to school or a job or whatever and something completely FALSE were on there like that?
Then after breathing and reflecting for a lot of the day on the matter, I have concluded a few things about myself - that I am easily irritated when it comes to attacking my character since I try my hardest to be of upstanding moral character, and that I stress-eat more than I would like. Also, I decided that I have learned some lessons from this ordeal - that I should have definitely followed my gut feelings in the beginning about fighting it - but I should have also done some following up after it was over to make sure it was completely gone instead of assuming that the government would do the right thing and take care of it.
A part of me also felt like I could turn to my Savior with my feelings of frustration over being wrongfully accused - because of all people who ever were indeed....