The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals may have closed the book on one of the more bizarre law enforcement incidents in recent Central California history. In Wilkinson v. Gingrich, a three-judge panel overturned James Wilkinson’s perjury conviction. The factual background is long and complicated, yet also very intriguing, so fasten your seatbelts.
Way back in January 2007, CHP Officer Mark Magrann pulled over a driver who was travelling 101mph on Interstate 405. Mr. Wilkinson, who produced a UK license at the stop, did not show up for court, and the judge issued an arrest warrant. At trial, Mr. Wilkinson produced a Nevada license. Based on Officer Magrann’s testimony that he “doubt[ed] whether he was actually driving the vehicle,” the judge found Mr. Wilkinson not guilty.
But it didn’t stop there. Officer Magrann spearheaded a six-month investigation that climaxed when armed officers broke into Mr. Wilkinson’s Dana Point home to execute a search warrant. Officer Magrann found the original ticket during the search, and prosecutors charged Mr. Wilkinson with perjury. The California Court of Appeals upheld his 45-day jail sentence, but the federal court reversed that decision. Judge William A. Fletcher wrote that “In acquitting Wilkinson in the first case, the traffic court judge thus necessarily decided that Wilkinson was not the driver, and that he had been telling the truth in so stating.” The judges also rejected the state’s argument that perjury was a different offense from speeding, for double jeopardy purposes.
The state might still appeal the case to the full Ninth Circuit or to the Supreme Court, but it is unlikely that either body would hear the matter.
Mr. Wilkinson definitely did the right thing by contesting the original ticket, because he was cited under VC 22348(b). These citations are quite common on the long, empty stretches of California highways, particularly on the I-5 from the Nevada border through Mojave and into Barstow.
The penalties are incredibly high: possibly thousands of dollars in fines, penalty assessments, and higher insurance premiums, up to a 30-day licenses suspension, and two points towards NOTS suspension. In these situations, it’s very important to partner with an experienced attorney that can get the ticket thrown out, or at least get the penalty reduced.
Getting Legal Help
The aggressive lawyers at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-859-1177 or email email@example.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-376-0214.