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Traffic citation, Bar Ethical Consequences?

Traffic citation-cat in unattended vehicle, no danger-worth hardwired12309/04/18
What? That’s a violation? I wouldn’t worry about it. massivemissive09/04/18
How do you know it's a violation? Traffic citations are crim dietcoke09/04/18
Thanks hardwired12309/04/18
Thanks hardwired12309/04/18
Jaja you might want to retain a legal team to accompany you isthisit09/04/18
I assume OP is already admitted. If so, the kinds of offense onehell09/04/18
Thanks. Yes, admitted in multiple jurisdictions. hardwired12309/04/18
Thanks. One of the considerations is whether to obtian repre hardwired12309/04/18
Hmm.. Not admitted in MD but some quick googling indicates t onehell09/04/18
This is very helpful. Thanks so much. hardwired12309/04/18
I consider animal endangerment moral terpitude dingbat09/04/18
I don't think the bar cares about a cat. Maybe if it was a d fettywap09/04/18
Haha, stay true. wutwutwut09/04/18
If it were me I’d probably call the officer and see if s/h ibrslave09/04/18
One other thought, some jurisdictions have some sort of dive ibrslave09/04/18
Is there evidence that you left the cat in the car long enou flharfh09/04/18
Well, it was dead. (Just kidding) wutwutwut09/04/18
Jaja that made me laugh. isthisit09/04/18
I would argue there is no such evidence. Windows were slight hardwired12309/05/18
https://www.canidae.com/blog/2016/0 8/is-there-a-safe-tempera fettywap09/05/18
Trans. § 21-1004.1 is the "traffic offence" variety. The mo jaredj09/05/18
This is much needed. Thanks so much jaredj. hardwired12309/05/18
I don’t know what specific jurisdiction we are talking abo wearyattorney09/06/18

hardwired123 (Sep 4, 2018 - 3:53 pm)

Traffic citation-cat in unattended vehicle, no danger-worth defending for bar ethical consequences or just pay citation?

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massivemissive (Sep 4, 2018 - 3:54 pm)

What? That’s a violation? I wouldn’t worry about it.

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dietcoke (Sep 4, 2018 - 4:00 pm)

How do you know it's a violation? Traffic citations are crimes in many states.

And a cat in an unattended vehicle, depending on the temperature, could be animal cruelty.

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hardwired123 (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:24 pm)

Thanks

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hardwired123 (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:24 pm)

Thanks

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isthisit (Sep 4, 2018 - 4:42 pm)

Jaja you might want to retain a legal team to accompany you to the Ethics interview. They might try to detain you due to the heinous nature of the crime. /s

Generally traffic citations are no big deal. But we need your jurisdiction and the actual statute you're charged with violating. Animal cruelty is different than a simple traffic violation.

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onehell (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:20 pm)

I assume OP is already admitted. If so, the kinds of offenses that can lead to discipline are narrower than the kinds of offenses that can hold up initial admission. Usually the rule is that only felonies and misdemeanors that involve "moral turpitude" (or some similarly vague phrase) are things you have to report.

In my state, this creates a bit of a catch 22. You can only find out for sure if something involves moral turpitude by reporting it, but you only have to report it if it involves moral turpitude. But fail to report something they later decide you should have, e.g. because the judge knows you're a lawyer and reports it himself, and you get disciplined both for the underlying offense AND for failure to report it.

My states' ethics opinions are pretty useless. Speeding tickets are clearly NOT moral turpitude, and misdemeanor theft (no matter how little was stolen) clearly IS moral turpitude. Pretty much every other misdemeanor is in a gray area; for example, I've seen them go both ways on first-offense misdemeanor DUIs depending on whether they think you just had one too many or are an actual alcoholic.

Something like animal cruelty (assuming it is not a felony which is clearly reportable or a mere civil citation which clearly isn't) seems to be in that gray area, especially since you never know if the judge might report it themselves if they happen to know you're a lawyer.

Perhaps your bar's ethics hotline would allow anonymous inquiries? If not, I've definitely seen people hire lawyers just to call the bar for them on a client-anonymous basis, so that they know whether it's reportable before deciding whether to plead/pay.

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hardwired123 (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:26 pm)

Thanks. Yes, admitted in multiple jurisdictions.

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hardwired123 (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:23 pm)

Thanks. One of the considerations is whether to obtian representation or represent on own or just pay fine. The statute: MD Transportation Section 21-1004.1 Article - § 21-1004.1. (a) A person may not leave a cat or dog unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.

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onehell (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:45 pm)

Hmm.. Not admitted in MD but some quick googling indicates that Maryland classifies tickets as either "payable" or "must appear," with this statute being in the "payable" category. But both are technically misdemeanors, not mere civil violations, and paying the fine constitutes pleading guilty.

So if that's right, then if the states in which you are admitted are like mine, they would consider it reportable if and only if the offense is one of "moral turpitude." One could probably argue that the "payable" designation reflects a legislative judgment that it isn't a crime of moral turpitude, not to mention of course the fact that it has no clear connection to law practice or traits of general honesty. But no way to know for 100% sure without someone talking to the applicable bar(s).

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hardwired123 (Sep 4, 2018 - 5:53 pm)

This is very helpful. Thanks so much.

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dingbat (Sep 4, 2018 - 7:00 pm)

I consider animal endangerment moral terpitude

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fettywap (Sep 4, 2018 - 7:07 pm)

I don't think the bar cares about a cat. Maybe if it was a dog.....

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wutwutwut (Sep 4, 2018 - 9:13 pm)

Haha, stay true.

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ibrslave (Sep 4, 2018 - 8:05 pm)

If it were me I’d probably call the officer and see if s/he’d be willing to informally negotiate a plea to a run of the mill summary traffic offense. If that isn’t an option, I’d hire a criminal defense attorney and ask him/her to try to get it dismissed or pled down to a summary traffic offense. Explain to the attorney why it’s important to get any kind of animal cruelty stuff withdrawn or dismissed. In my opinion, a negotiated guilty plea with the animal cruelty stuff gone is better than a trial where you could still get dinged for it. If the officer and/or DA isn’t agreeable, then I would probably go to trial and raise whatever defense you have. Once again, that’s just how I would handle it and is not legal advice.

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ibrslave (Sep 4, 2018 - 8:23 pm)

One other thought, some jurisdictions have some sort of diversion/alternative disposition program for first time nonviolent offenders. This may be an option that could get this case dismissed without having to plead guilty or go to trial.

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flharfh (Sep 4, 2018 - 8:39 pm)

Is there evidence that you left the cat in the car long enough to "endanger its health or safety"?

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wutwutwut (Sep 4, 2018 - 10:17 pm)

Well, it was dead.

(Just kidding)

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isthisit (Sep 4, 2018 - 10:27 pm)

Jaja that made me laugh.

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hardwired123 (Sep 5, 2018 - 9:01 pm)

I would argue there is no such evidence. Windows were slightly down, 80 degrees outside and returned when police just arrived, less than 30 minutes. Cat was and is fine.

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fettywap (Sep 5, 2018 - 9:50 pm)

https://www.canidae.com/blog/2016/08/is-there-a-safe-temperature-to-leave-a-dog-in-a-car/

And you're an idiot.

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jaredj (Sep 5, 2018 - 5:03 pm)

Trans. § 21-1004.1 is the "traffic offence" variety. The more serious charges are located in Crim. § 10-601 et. seq. For example, § 10-604 (abuse or neglect of animal) and § 10-606 (Aggravated cruelty to animals).

While it is true the traffic offense is technically a misdemeanor, you do not have to report it to the AGC.

The relevant ethics rule is 19-308.4. aka (8.4)(b), and it requires reporting if you "commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the attorney's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as an attorney in other respects."

Leaving your cat in a hot car does not reflect adversely on your honesty.

Remember also that a conviction/acquittal in criminal land is irrelevant. If it were a crime of dishonesty, the AGC only has to prove it by clear and convincing evidence. "It is well established that a conviction is not required to find a violation of MLRPC 8.4(b)." Attorney Grievance Comm'n v. Jarosinski, 411 Md. 432, 454, 983 A.2d 477 (2009). "A court must find only clear and convincing evidence of conduct that would violate a criminal statute." Id.

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hardwired123 (Sep 5, 2018 - 9:02 pm)

This is much needed. Thanks so much jaredj.

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wearyattorney (Sep 6, 2018 - 7:28 am)

I don’t know what specific jurisdiction we are talking about in terms of licensure, but usually, in most jurisdictions, if you are admitted, you only have to report it if its a conviction. If you are not admitted, barring a handful, you have to report it no matter what, and as you noted, even if it is dismissed you still might have a problem.

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