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  1. #1
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: VA

    Hello!

    I would like to ask for your guidance and help on a criminal matter in the state of VA. Thank you in advance for any advices.

    To summarize, recently, I was cited for a disorderly conduct charge (dis-5311-O1) and an obstruct justice charge (jus-4829-O1) stemming from a traffic violation (u-turn on no u-turn).

    Briefly, I had to make a u-turn to a gas station that is on the other side of a road I was traveling as my car was on an empty tank. I noticed that a police car across steet before making u-turn, and I'd thought it would be legal as the gas-station's entrance is right after I make the u-turn.

    When officer turned on his flasher, I immediately stopped in the front vicinity of the gas station parking lot, and he asked for my license which I complied in a calm patient manner. As he was writing the citation, I noticed that my car is sputtering due to gas being run out. I moved about 6 feet to the gas pump, got out and managed to start putting the gas.

    As the gas is being pumped, I walked to the police officer (in his car) to explain that I had to move the car to the pump the gas as I was running out of gas, and also asked an explanation on what I did exactly wrong (No U-turn).

    Immediately, he started yelling and told me that he will arrest me if I don't go back to my car. At this point, I was shocked and dumbfounded but manage to start walking to my car. The police officer got out of his car and pushed me to the hood of his car and put a handcup on me (arrested me). It happened so fast without him giving me a time to walk back to my car, that I was only able to walk from the police car door to the front of the hood. This took less than a minute.

    Throughout I was not loud or belligerent but just tried to explain why I had to move my car to the pump and for a clarification to why I was cited.

    Anyway, the gist of what I gathered from his supervisor is that the disorderly conduct is from my failure to get back to my car (even though I was walking back to my car as he told me to) and the obstruct justice from resisting arrest (I unknowingly and instinctively put one of my hand on the top of the hood to protect myself from falling hard on the hood as the office tried grabbed both of my arms suddenly.)

    Throughout the arrest process, I didn't resist nor talked back at the officer other than asking what is happening to me (from the shock).

    My family who was in the car witnessed everything and the clerk in the gas station also saw (he told me he saw everything) as well.

    Anyway, I was handcuffed, driven to the station (photoed-figure printed), and then cited for the charges with a future court date.

    At this point, not only am I shocked, scared, and trembling, but am worried about what to do next.

    If you could please explain the expert's analysis of the whole situation, and guide me what I should do next, what I should expect, what the most likely outcome, etc.., I would be tremendously grateful.

    Also, as a someone who works in a government sector (I don't have any criminal record at all), I am worried about the consequences on my employment as well.

    Thank you very much!

    Scared and worried dad_

  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    It happened so fast without him giving me a time to walk back to my car, that I was only able to walk from the police car door to the front of the hood. This took less than a minute.
    it took less than a minute to walk from the door of the officers car to the front of his car? Well, saying it was about 5 feet, I would say that would be seen as refusing to follow his order to return to your car.

    It should have taken you about 5 seconds from the time he told you to go back to your car.

    It sounds like you wanted to continue the "discussion" the officer had no intention of engaging you in at that time.


    I'm surprised he didn't act when you moved the car to the gas pump. You should NEVER move your car once an officer stops you unless he directs you to move your car. You should have turned the car off and simply waited for the officer to do his thing. Once he left you could have started the car, pulled to the pump and purchased gas.

    what to do next: find a lawyer to help you deal with the charges. As it stands, I can see the u-turn and at least one of the other charges sticking.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2010
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    7

    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    Thank you for the reply!
    It is assuring that I have someone to talk about the situation.

    In a hurried and worried emotional state to get a help, I didn't make my self clear. What I had meant by less than a minute is the time from the start of my walking back to my car to the finish of the handcuff (it happened so fast, I didn't have any chance to utter a word other than what is happening to me..)

    As soon as the officer told me to get back to my car, I was going back to car w/o any reservation.

    Thank you again for your reply.

    Initially, I was waiting in my car with the windows rolled down as the officer was writing the u-turn citation in his car.

    When my car started sputtering as the gas was running out (It is all my fault to get into this situation in the first place.), I was thinking only about getting a gas to my car before it dies instead of doing what you adviced (Again I regret this but with the temp being 20's and wind speed of ~35MPH, I didn't want my family (a young son and a daughter) to get cold by keeping the car running).

    That is the reason why when I got out of the car and started putting the gas, I tried to explain to the officer the reason for moving my car (again I shouldn't have done this no matter what, but as a parent I didn't think clearly). Because of the cold, darkness (around 6pm), and the strong wind, he didn't hear me at all, and thus, I went to his car to explain my actions.

    Again, thank you so much for your feedback.

    dad

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    well, the best you can do, as I stated before, is find a lawyer. Most often an officer commands something such as "wait here" when they walk away. As such, doing anything other than waiting there is a breach of law. As I said, I am surprised he didn't say anything about moving the car when you did.

    Basically, you did just about everything wrong that you could. It appears your intent to inform the officer why you moved the car was genuine but that does not remove the fact that you did what you did.

    Find an attorney and see what can be worked out.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    Start by getting a criminal defense lawyer, and trying to secure any video footage that may be available from the gas station. Also, if the officer's car had video, you'll want to secure a copy. I assume from your statement that the gas station attendant is willing to testify for you, so make sure your lawyer has his contact information.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    jk and Mr. Knowitall,

    I really appreciate your responses, and as you may have guessed, they means so much to me at this point.

    As a someone who is not familiar with the traffic citation process, the proper behavior/action in such as situation I just didn't know nor think properly.
    (Only if I could turn back the time with your advices in hand...)

    Anyway, my wife, teenage daughter, and son (unfortunately), witnessed the whole event as well as the station clerk. I stopped by after my release to see whether he saw anything, and he told me that he saw everything as well. He is shocked just as much as me by the suddenness of the arrest and the loud, aggressive behavior of the officer. He offered to provide his account of the incident if needed.

    I have already left a message to a laywer's office as I am a neophite in the matter such as this.

    If you would please, could you attempt to establish a case for each charge against me from the perspective of the law, and how I (with a layer) can best prepare for the court date?

    Should I ask my family to start writing their account of the incident?
    (BTW, police officers tried to talk to my family about the incident, and they didn't say much as they were crying throughout and were also afraid and shocked as well.)

    Thank you..

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    without all of the information, it is difficult to lay out any justification for the charges or any defense. As to the family writing their take on things; absolutely if for no other reason than to note facts that they may forget as this progresses.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    Another police officer took my family inside the gas station and asked many questions. Some answers they told me that they stated "I don't know" as they were crying, shocked, and worried. Does the law take any statements by my family to their use? I cannot understand their grilling of my family when when were obviously in a severe emotional state.

    Also, what do I need to do to get a copy of the police video? Because the gas station video camera was far away from the incident place (also it was pretty much dark), I don't know if it is useful or not. What I remember is that the officer went to the clerk, and may have asked for the video already.

    Thank you again!

    (ps)Throughout the whole arrest, I was not loud, disrespecting, or disobeying the officer.
    Indeed when he told me to get back to my car (it was hard to hear due to the cold and wind), I proceed to go back to my car right away. The officer caught me from behind as I was walking to my car (This happened so fast that I didn't know who was at my behind at that moment).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    yes, they can use your families statements against you.

    an attorney would seek the video as part of discovery for your trial.

    an attorney can seek the vid of the gas station the same way but that does not preclude you, or your attorney, asking before it ever gets to that stage. The police often give notice they are going to subpoena evidence so it is not erased or lost.

    since it appears the gas station guy is on your side, I do not see any harm is just asking if they have and if they would provide the video to you. At least let them know you would like the video so they will not record over it, if that is normal for them to do.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Obstruct Justice and Disorderly Conduct from a Traffic Citation

    jk,

    your responses are much appreciated. Their use of my family's statement w/o any law declaration? (any statement can be used against...) or if they stated, knowning my family didn't hear it at all, is it legal? How can I prepare for their rebuttal such as "His wife said I don't know to such and such statement?

    The station clerk told me to contact the store manager in two days for the video, but I am not sure if the manager will provide it to me as a regular customer (not a law professions)>

    Also, how soon should I get a laywer to gather the video evidences??

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