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Author Topic: What kind of insane nonsense is this?
JoshuaD
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So I had some tickets I didn't pay for a while. I let them run because I'm an idiot, but that's not what is important. Try not to say "you just should have paid the tickets when you got them you idiot", because I know that, but being charged late fees isn't what's bothering me.

Anyway, because I didn't pay the tickets, I ended up getting a warrant put out on me, and I went down to my police department and posted the bail, 482$, which was the cost of the tickets and fines. The arresting officer told me to contact the township to find out if that was enough to satisfy the court.

I called them up the next day, told them what happened, the lady said "Yea, as long as you paid the bail and we get it, everything's good."

So I felt good about myself, and forgot about the whole thing.

A week or two ago, I get a letter in the mail saying my licence has been suspended. I look on the back, and it states "failure to apear in court", in the township I thought I paid off.

I called them up today, and the lady on the phone informs me that the bail money I posted was forfeited because I didn't appear in court.

Forfeited.

Huh?

She tells me that because I didn't send them a letter telling them to keep my money and pay the fines with it, they decided to just keep my money instead.

Huh.

I tell her the whole story, about how I talked to a girl from her offices, who told me that I had done everything I needed to do to satisfy the township, and she said "oh yea she wouldn't have said that."

"Ok, but she did."

"No she didn't."

"Yes, she did. Were you on the phone listening in that day?"

"She didn't say that sir."

"Whatever, what do I have to do to get this taken care of?"

She tells me I post bail again, and then she'll give me a court date.

"Wait, I gotta post bail again? I don't have that money. Can you just schedule me to see the judge anyway?"

"No, you can't see a judge until you post bail."

"But I don't have it."

"Then I can't schedule you."

"You're telling me I can't see a judge until I pay you guys money?"

"Yes."

"....."

"Oh, and also, the judge won't be in until January 5th, he's on break. So that's the earliest I could schedule you."

Does this sound absolutely insane to anyone else? I pay them the cost of the fines, and the decide to keep the money without forgiving my debt. They then suspend my licence (100$ to re-enstate it, no matter what), and tell me I have to pay them again. If I don't pay them, I can't see a judge. Ever.

"I can't afford that 482$, I'm a student and 482$ is my food bills for 2 months."

"I suggest you talk to a bail bondsman, he only charges you 10%".

Do I have any rights? Do I lose the 8th amendment when I get to the township level?
quote:
Tommy J said:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

.

To anyone who knows anything about law: Is there anything I can do to get in to see a judge without posting the bail? Do I have any option here but to pay the money and hope the judge is not a complete ***hole?

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RickyB
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Zero Tolerance!!!
[Smile]

Sorry, I don't mean to crow at your annoying experience. On the contrary. Just wanted to point out that this is what happens when official business is "programmed". Focking bureaucrats.

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aupton15
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That's terrible. There's no way they can take your money and make you pay it all again because they screwed up. There should be a record of when you were supposed to appear in court, and when they notified you of that. Since they didn't notify you, you should be able to point the finger at the right person and make them fix it. Unfortunately, you have to find the right link in the chain to move the process forward. The only recommendation I can make is not to start with the lady you were talking to on the phone.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by aupton15:
That's terrible. There's no way they can take your money and make you pay it all again because they screwed up. There should be a record of when you were supposed to appear in court, and when they notified you of that.

They apparently sent notices to my house saying I needed to appear in court, but I never got/saw them. They also denied that the girl told me everything was handled.

The worst part is I'm sitting without a licence until this gets handled, and the fastest way to get my licence back is to just pay them.

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PlaydoughBoy
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Did you pay in cash or did you write a check?
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LoverOfJoy
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If only you could pay with a credit card, get some cashback bonus or frequent flier miles, and then see the court and get the money back. [Big Grin]

What happened to you really stinks. Can you verify they even sent the notice to the right address?

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by PlaydoughBoy:
Did you pay in cash or did you write a check?

Check. They have records of my paying, the judge just forfeited the money I gave because I didn't show up to court that I wasn't informed I was supposed to show up to.
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aupton15
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I can't believe you aren't allowed to discuss this with the judge without paying again. It doesn't make any sense. I'd start back with the person who recorded your payment and said everything was taken care of. See why they didn't inform you about a court date, and see what they can do to fix it at that point. Short of that, call in any favors you may have with the mayor!
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PlaydoughBoy
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And it's too late to stop the check?
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Lewkowski
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I don't think you have any 8th amendment rights.

But something is fishy here... you shouldn't have to pay them to see the judge.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by LoverOfJoy:
What happened to you really stinks. Can you verify they even sent the notice to the right address?

Yea, they had my address right in their records.

quote:
Originally posted by PlaydoughBoy:
And it's too late to stop the check?

Yea, it was during the summer I got it taken care of. It's been nearly 4 months.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Lewkowski:
I don't think you have any 8th amendment rights.

Why not?
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Adam Lassek
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This is nothing compared to what happened to a friend of mine a couple of months ago.

The couple in the apartment above were fighting quite loudly, and it sounded like the woman was being beaten. Someone called the cops, who showed up and asked people in the surrounding apartments to make a statement. In the process of this, they checked everyone's ID. It turned out my friend had a warrant out for her arrest--because she was four days late paying a fine. This was an honest mistake, she thought she still had time to pay it.

When her boyfriend found out, he spent the whole night on the phone with the police department. they wouldn't let him bail her out. Apparently, the warrant was in a different county than the one that arrested her, and they wouldn't let her post bail until they transferred her to the correct county. Of course the other county took their sweet time, so they strip searched her and put her in jail with the real criminals for eighteen hours.

It turns out that there was a system for posting bail for another county that is in place, and if the police had cared to tell her boyfriend about it she would have been out of there in a matter of a few hours. They didn't because the two county police departments were in a fight. She went through a strip search and spent the night in jail over a pissing contest. All due to a simple misunderstanding that could have been cleared up with a **cking phone call.

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ed
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joshua, were i you, i'd consider appealing for a public defender. they've got you over a barrel on processes you don't know. an attorney, however, would.

ed

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by ed:
joshua, were i you, i'd consider appealing for a public defender. they've got you over a barrel on processes you don't know. an attorney, however, would.

I hadn't considered that. Is it possible to get a court-apointed counselor without having a court appearance?

If I have to pay them, I'm probably better off just trying my luck with the judge.

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scifibum
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I don't know anything about the law but I think you should at least speak with a public defender in your state. Since your profile says NJ/PA:

http://www.state.nj.us/defender/contactus.shtml

For PA there seem to be county PDs:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=pennsylvania+public+defender

I'm with RickyB for once ( [Wink] ) - idiot bureaucrats! These government worker types forget that they are working FOR us. And even if that lady deals with lowlife criminals 99% of the time, she should be willing to -consider- the possibility that you're not a liar.

And if it makes you feel any better, I did the same thing where I let 2 parking tickets ride for a year and got a bench warrant and a sick fine. Happens to the best of us. [Wink]

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ed
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nice work, SF bum. you're more perceptive than i am.

josh, i live in mercer county in NJ, minutes from the PA border, 45 mins from philly.

i suspect you have to make a court appearance in order to request a public defender although relevant forms may be available through the municipal court offices via fax, if not website.

ed

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ATW
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Something similar happened with me a while back. I paid off a $90 speeding ticket in the manner in which I was instructed to do (both in writing on the ticket and also from a phone call to them to double-check).

Then a few months later had to pay $75 in fines on the ticket because I hadn't specified which guilty plea I was making when I paid it. Apparently there were several different varieties of guilty pleas from which to choose, all in latin, and no place on the paperwork where it asked for that information and no place provided on the paperwork in which to write that information.

Which kind of guilty plea didn't make a difference in the dollar total of the ticket but the city chose not to "process" the payment. That is, they cashed the check and took the money but didn't apply it to the ticket. The fines were for non-payment of the ticket.

They had my phone number, address, and the payment but didn't bother to try to contact me.

It wasn't in the city in which I live so it was cheaper to pay the fine in addition to the ticket than to make the trip to see the judge then probably have to pay the fine anyway.

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