Atlanta Man Claims Panhandling Ticket Is a Case of Mistaken Identity; Court Isn't Convinced

Police gave a citation for panhandling to someone with Larry Martin's ID, but Martin says it wasn't him.


Panhandling Prohibited Sign
Francis Storr / Flickr

An Atlanta man says a citation for panhandling is a case of mistaken identity, but so far he hasn't been able to convince the court.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, police issued Larry Martin the ticket last November. Since then, Martin has been struggling to prove the man they ticketed wasn't him:

Martin believes he was the victim of stolen identity.

Martin says the only reason he can think of for the confusion is that his wallet was stolen weeks before he got this ticket.

"I turned around and called Atlanta Police Department and I reported my wallet as stolen and they took a police report and it's on record," Martin said.

He thinks whoever was cited for panhandling gave the officer his stolen ID.

Even with a letter from his employer, which reads, "This is verification that Larry Martin was at work on November the 29, 2014, from 9am to 7pm," when the citation was issued, Martin said he still hasn't been able to convince the judge.

Martin claims the court tried once to contact the officer who issued the citation, but he couldn't be reached that day.

In 2012, the Atlanta City Council passed a law meant to strengthen enforcement of and penalties for "aggressive" panhandling, per another Journal-Constitution piece. The law makes it illegal to solicit money within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit, as well as near ATMs or parking lot pay boxes.

A first offense carries a penalty of 30 days of community service, while a second offense earns a person a mandatory jail stay of at least 30 days.

The Atlanta Police Department has not responded to a request for comment.

Martin's fourth court date, during which he'll try again to persuade the city they have the wrong man, is scheduled for next week, according to AJC.com.

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  1. Good luck proving your innocence. Wait, I thought it was suppose to be the other way round.

    1. So he’s still beating his wife, then?

      1. I’m sure it will get discharged, he’ll just owe court fees for wasting the court’s time with getting himself a citation.

        1. I disagree. I think the court is wasting his time, in fact, I think the court should pay him for wasting his time. I think it is very foolish and not very cost effective to ticket or threaten to jail someone because they are panhandling, more so if the panhandler is non-aggressive. I think it is wasteful spending, and a waste of resources. There is a reason why Atlanta Police did not comment, they are cowards, they want to issue tickets, but yet they do not want to show up for court, or get involved, but yet the corrupt judge wants to keep this rolling? The corrupt judge even got a letter from his boss saying he was at work! Honestly, this should have never gone on as long as it has, and he should have called the ACLU on day1.

      2. She hasn’t used the safe word yet.

    2. That’s only if you believe in some document that’s like a hundred years old and hard to read.

    3. To get a case dismissed there is no persumption of innocence that’s only for trials. He should ask for a trial date and get someone from his office to testify to his whereabouts. Since when is a form letter admissible as exculpatory evidence.

      1. It’s too early to be stupid. Come back in an hour.

      2. He showed up in court, the sole witness against him didn’t. He shouldn’t have to prove shit.

      3. I don’t see where you’re getting this idea that he tried to get it “dismissed” instead of found not guilty after a trial. The article certainly doesn’t say that.

        1. Sam reads what you cannot read, sees what you cannot see, and knows what you cannot know.

      4. He should not, he should request a trial date, and call the ACLU.

  2. Fourth court date. FOURTH. When his employer has verified he was at work.

    But, no – he’d better come to court a FOURTH time.

    This is why some people choose to avoid or capitulate, rather than fight. The fuckers’ll just wear you down.


  3. The cop said it was him, therefore it was him. Even if it can be proven that it wasn’t. We can’t go around admitting that cops can be wrong. That might cause people to lose their faith in the infallibility of their public servants.

    1. I see the judge quoting Henry Hill in Goodfellas: “Fuck you, pay me”.

    2. Actually, the cop hasn’t even shown up at court to say it was him.

  4. His case continues being reset and every time he goes to court is time he has to take off of work as a maintenance man, which is costing him time and money.

    He could always solicit money from passersby to make up the funds.

    1. +1 tin cup

    2. Beat me to it, bastard.

  5. Martin claims the court tried once to contact the officer who issued the citation, but he couldn’t be reached that day.

    In other words, the sole evidence happens to also be the accuser to which Martin has the right to face, and has not bothered to show up in court FOUR times.

    And yet they do not dismiss. Sure. Sounds legit. Why not.

    1. “Gosh, the only witness against you hasn’t bothered to show up. Prolonging this case would violate your right to a speedy trial. The charges are dismissed. Next case!”

      You mean that *didn’t* happen? Ah, well, he’s just some janitor, who really cares?

    2. Again it was his choice to seek dismissal of the ticket instead of a trial. The protections afforded one in a trial aren’t granted to people who try and take the easy way out. If he goes to trial and the cop doesn’t show then the ticket is dismissed. It also means though that someone from his office is going to have to go under oath and claim he was there rather than firing off a form letter.

      1. I find it hard to believe that it’s this guy’s fault.

        If he’s guilty, let the cop show up and say it to his face. Otherwise no dice.

      2. You’re still here? I’m sure there was a minimum income level which precludes you.

        Someone see if we left the door unlocked again.

        1. Ha yea it’s poor people that are generally supportive of the police. Nice try I guess.

      3. Where does it say he was seeking dismissal instead of trial?

      4. He still has to pay court costs, if he goes to trial.

  6. While strictly speaking I don’t know why they’re prolonging this case, the odds are that they’re trying to squeeze a guilty plea out of him by wearing him down.

    1. It would be one thing to keep granting postponements if this were a murder trial, but of course in a murder trial there’d probably be more than one witness and the prosecution would be more on the ball.

      But for a minor charge like this, the prosecutor really needs to fish or cut bait, and if they can’t get on the ball enough to have their witnesses lined up, then let the defendant go.

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  8. Hey, if he wasn’t panhandling, he’s probably still guilty of something, right? Officer Friendly advises you to just do your community service before they decide to take a closer look at you. Nice life you have there, be a shame if something were to happen to it….

  9. states just want to get rid of panhandlers any way possible, even if it means violating their rights of free speech. Call a civil rights attorney or the ACLU and sue the State of Georgia. Regardless if he is the panhandler or not, even panhandlers have to fight for their right to survive. To ticket or jail any non aggressive panhandler is a waste of taxpayer resources, taxpayer waste!

    Latest court ruling allows Portland panhandlers to stay on street medians!

    Attention: Civil Rights Attorneys.
    Get Involved!

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