Is implied permission by one police department an affirmative defense against being charged by another police department for the same activity?

I ride a motorized bicycle. I have been riding this motorized bike for two years and have been witnessed hundreds of times by the police department of the city where I live. I have had direct contact with the city police numerous times riding this bike and have been allowed to continue to ride it. I was recently stopped by a state police officer and was given a criminal DLS citation. I was arraigned yesterday. If one police department interpreting the same statute allows me to ride the motorized bike, how can I be prosecuted by another police department interpreting the same statute?

Asked on July 27, 2010 under Criminal Law, Vermont


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you violated the law, you *should* have been prosecuted by the  first police department. If they choose not to, you were lucky; however, note that one law enforcement agency's determination or action cannot bind another agency which does not report to the first one. If there is a statute making what you did illegal, even if your local police chose to not take action, it is valid for another agency, such as the state police, to charge you as long as it was within their jurisdiction, which it probably was--at least if you were on a state road or some other road patrolled by the state police. Again, one agency cannot make decisions or policy for another agency over which they have no control or authority.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.