As a very few people already know, I was sued for an accused hit-and-run of a parked car several months ago. Let me try to start at the beginning...
A woman who lives in the same building as my friend charged me with hitting her car. She described to the police how I backed out, into her car, and drove off. When I first spoke with the police, I was afraid maybe I did ding her. After all, it was the correct time I left and she described the way I backed out using another driveway. I told them I didn't feel anything, but maybe.. just maybe.. yet I wasn't sure. Then they go on to explain how she further said that afterwards I got out of my car and examined hers, looking over the damage with a flashlight, then hopped back into my car and drove off while she ran down the street after me shouting and begging for me to stop. This all rang rather high on my BS meter. Hell, it was over the top. I told them as much. I also told them about the two people (both friends of mine) who were standing in the doorway to the apartment as I left, who she would have had to bowl over in order to chase me as she'd claimed.
Then comes the damage. There is a huge dent on her car. The only dent on a comperable area of my car is small, about 6 inches higher, and completely rusted out where the metal was exposed. I had pictures of both cars from the insurance company, a letter about how they didn't match, a letter stating how frequently she called my insurance office (multiple times a day) and how she innitially claimed to them that I had pled guilty and confessed to the police (a blatant lie which the police confirmed).
The cop handling my tickets for this tells me repeatedly on the phone that she calls him daily and demands such things as jail time for me and that I be forced to pay "restitution". Even after he explains multiple times that she simply cannot request that, that's not something that can be done. He laughs about how she clearly seems "out to get" me. He seems to be on my side, as it were.
The complications come in where my liscence was suspended when the incident occurs. (The suspension is for non-payment for a 3 year old ticket that I never got.. ha.. I'd love to explain that but it'd take another few pages..) I didn't tell the officer involved that it was suspended. Yeah, I was sort of hoping no one would notice. Ok, I knew they'd notice eventually, but I was hoping to be able to drive home that day, at the very least. A mistake? At the time I wasn't sure. In retrospect... ugh.
Now here we are at the final court date, yesterday. The cop had told me to speak with him and the prosecutor before I went before the judge, assuring me we'd be able to make this go away no problem. He reminds me to bring everything I have reltaed to the matter (my pictures, letters, witnesses, etc.). And then he doesn't show. So I talk to the prosecutor, tell him what the cop said, and show him what I have. He talks to my witness alone. He calls the cop, then calls me back over, and starts offering me "deals". "I can drop or combine this down to that, but that's all I can do." I ask him about what the cop said. He explains how the cop told him he thinks I did it, then got scared and booked because my liscense was suspended. I ask why if I knew I did it and knew that she knew, why would I come back and park in the same place the very next night and again two nights later? No answer.
Now for my evidence. There's no expert to testify about the damage so the pictures and letter from the insurance co are out. Her harrasment and lies are completely disregarded. He doesn't even bother to adress them when I ask. He repeats how she identified me and my car accurately. I explain that I (and the car) were over that building 4-5 days a week for at least a month. It doesn't matter at all. He tells me repeatedly that if I bring this before the judge, he has no doubt I'll be found guilty. Exasperated, I say "It seems like because she described me and said I did it, that I'm guilty." He says "Pretty much yes. Because your liscence was suspended at the time ruins your credibility."
WTF is that?! There is NO EVIDENCE that I did this other that her claim! ALL of the physical evience is in my favour! But I am presumed guilty why? Because of a prior incident (That, by the way, I claimed responsibility for at the time). I KNOW there are laws that say almost everything that happened in relation to this are illegal. And you know what? It doesn't matter. There is no fighting the power.
(next day reply to various postings)
To summarize an answer to most of these posts, as I said, Monday was the last day of this crap. Why? Because Monday I pled guilty to "driving an unsafe vehicle" in order to put this to rest in what seemed like the only borderline painless way. I spoke to the cop, he did change his point of view. Or in his words, he always thought that, just his idea of "making this all ok" and mine were vastly different. His idea had something to do with me pleading down to make everyone happy.
Here's my experience of traffic court, a few days worth summed up:
If anyone accuses you, be it cop, citizen, or talking dog, you are guilty. Why? 'Cause the courts want your cash. And only guilty people pay phat lewtz.
Everyone accused of anything gets to plead down if they make the attempt and don't expel bodily fluids onto the prosecutor. Why? Because the less your fine is the more likely you are gonna pay it. And keep paying, and keep paying, and not care, because hey, you got a "deal".
If you get a lawyer, they take your money, then tell you to plead guilty. They tell you they can get your fines reduced to the minimum, but what most people don't know ahead of time is that everyone is already getting the minimum. So they keep paying and paying and not caring, because hey, they got a "deal".
The only time people don't get the minimum is when they try to plead not guilty and actually get seen by the judge. Then they get found guilty and get higher-end fines for "wasting the court's time".
The only person I saw get off for anything is the one person who's accuser didn't show up.
And about the insurance/registration, it was my mom's car that she didn't use anymore, she was letting me use it until it became useless. (It was old and worn, no one expected it to last very long.)
I'm not complaining about being able to avoid actual "hit-n-run" findings, (because after all, I got a "deal"!) but it really disgusts me to hear someone tell me they think I'm guilty of something so serious and then tell me it's no problem for me to plead down to a charge that amounts to nothing but fines. (Mad cash for the courts! They work so hard!) Most of my complaint was that if you're innocent nobody cares, but the truth is if someone really does do this stuff, nobody cares then either. I won't even get started on the people who pled guilty to unsafe driving in incidents that caused accidents (with real cars and real people) who got fines half as much as mine.
I guess none of this should have come as a suprise to me. But to see it "working" first hand is really something else.