Avoiding Legal Trouble

Why Parking Tickets Sometimes Lead To More Serious Charges

Depending on where you park your car, you might expect to receive nothing more than an inconvenient parking ticket. But under some circumstances, a parking ticket can be a legal disaster. If you are facing a large number of parking tickets or other consequences related to your parking tickets, you may need to speak with a criminal defense attorney. In some cases, a parking ticket can lead to an officer having probable cause and searching your vehicle. Then, you may face criminal charges depending on what they find.

The Consequences of Not Paying a Parking Ticket

You are expected to pay a traffic ticket on time and having an excessive number of parking tickets can lead to your registration being affected. You may also see your fines increased. If you do not pay a parking ticket after a long enough period, you may eventually face jail time for contempt. However, it depends on whether the ticket is issued by a police officer or issued by a private lot. 

The Biggest Consequence

A parking ticket can be used as probable cause. If the police officer finds anything suspicious, they can use the parking incident as a reason to seize your vehicle. If something is discovered in your car that could be considered incriminating, you might find yourself in a more serious legal situation. 

For example, if the officer found you in possession of marijuana when your vehicle was being searched, you may then be arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. If found guilty, you may end up with a misdemeanor or even a felony charge depending on the:

  • Quantity
  • State in which you reside
  • Whether you had the intent to redistribute

However, to be able to discover illegal substances in the car, the officer will need probable cause. The 4th Amendment protects motorists against unreasonable search and seizure and the officer cannot conduct an investigation unless they have reason to suspect that you have committed a crime.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can craft a case for why your charges should be dismissed and will present them in court. Even if you are not able to have your charges dismissed, you may be able to have your charges reduced so you will face much less serious consequences.

You have the right to have an attorney present while you are being questioned and you will be better off if you involve an attorney in your case as early as possible. Contact a criminal defense attorney to learn more.