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Old 08-19-2009, 08:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unexpected warrant out for my arrest in another state

Hi there. My situation hopefully isn't too complicated and I think it will be an easy fix, but I would like some help/advice on the subject before I take action.

I just found out today that there's a warrant out for my arrest in Texas. I'm a recent college graduate and unemployed because of it. I live in Colorado. I lived in Texas for about a year and got into a traffic accident.

First offense:
I didn't have my driver's license on me (my purse had been stolen about a week before and the replacement was in the mail). The driver's license I carry is a Wisconsin state license, my home state, and they could find no records of me in their Texas database because (duh) my license was from out of state. They issued a couple of fines to me - one was my fault, I was driving without insurance, so I paid that one off even though my tags were Wisconsin tags and we aren't required to have insurance by law... anyway, and the second was obviously for not having valid license.

Second offense
They wouldn't settle out of court when I got proof of having a valid license, and set a court date for well over a year in the future. I've since moved and, yes I know this is my fault, completely forgot about my court date which I think was sometime at the beginning of August. I paid off the fine that I felt I was responsible for and removed the issue from my conscience. So now I have a warrant out for my arrest in Dallas for not showing up to court for something I shouldn't even have had to go to court for in the first place.

Like I said, I'm broke/unemployed/starving, etc. I want to get a lawyer if I have to but I won't be able to afford one for some time unless I miraculously get a job which I've been trying diligently for months.

Offenses:
NO OPS ... $260.00
FMFR ... $415.00
Basically, I was wondering what I can do on my own without getting arrested. I want this removed from my record. It is my first real offense minus some crap I did when I was a juvenile, so I hope they'll be lenient on me due to the fact that other than being ignorant and forgetful I'm a decent citizen. I'm not counting on it though because the Texan mentality is to screw you as hard as possible - and that's why I left.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter and I greatly appreciate any advice.
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Old 08-22-2009, 06:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Call the court

Call the court and explain the situation, and also that you have moved and cannot afford to travel back to Texas because of the unemployment situation. You can explain that you missed the court date and would like to do a telephone conference instead because you cannot be there in person. They will most likely set another date for you to appear by telephone, remove the warrant because you called in, and during the telephone conference they will go over your issue and hopefully resolve it or give you another fine which you will have to pay. Don't ignore the situation this time, or you may land yourself in jail if your name comes up on a warrant in Texas and you get pulled over. Good luck
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Old 08-22-2009, 06:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you very much...I was unaware that I could do a telephone conference. I have no intention of ignoring this issue. A clean record is very important to me. Again, thank you so much!
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There is so much wrong with this thread---I don't know where to start.

FIRST of all........... for clarity, a bit about Wisconsin law regarding insurance. To state WI law does not require insurance is not entirely correct because they DO require proof of financial responsibility (to the tune of a $60,000 cash deposit).

Wisconsin does not require proof of insurance in most instances. You will, however, be required to show you have insurance if you've previously lost driving privileges.

Proof of financial responsibility means that you have to show you have the funds available to cover the damages incurred in an accident. Generally, this can be satisfied by placing a deposit of $60,000 cash with the state department of transportation. This is one of the reasons why most experts strongly recommend getting auto insurance instead of following the proof of financial responsibility route.
If you are required to show proof of insurance, you must purchase your policy from an insurance company that is licensed to do business in Wisconsin, and you must have the insurance company provide you with an SR-22 policy, which means that the insurance company will automatically notify the DMV if you should allow your insurance policy to lapse of if you cancel your policy.

Next.....having residency in Texas for a YEAR without changing over the tag or having insurance? Not a good move. Most states give you a matter of DAYS or very few weeks (usually thirty days) to get the tag, registration, etc switched over. Not sure how or why you lived there for a year without switching it.

Now......with regard to the telephone conference....... I am afraid being starving/ unemployed/out of work, etc is NOT going to get you a phone conference to get out of a traffic ticket and now, especially a warrant.

More information from the DMV:
How you can pay your traffic ticket varies from county to county in Texas, and sometimes even from town to town. The ticket itself will usually tell you how you can pay it, or you can contact the court directly to find out your options. The court will be listed on the citation.
Virtually all courts and offices take personal checks; some may take credit or debit cards too. Some offices may not be equipped to handle cash, and some might require a cashier's check or money order instead of a personal check, so be sure to find out in advance. A quick phone call should do the trick.
If you don't pay your ticket by the date listed on the ticket, the fines increase, sometimes doubling instantly. A neglected or forgotten ticket can provide a nasty surprise later on, and most courts don't take well to "Oops!" as a defense.
In some cases the ticket will indicate either that you may contest the ticket by appearing in court―or that paying a fine isn't an option and you have to appear in court. If a court appearance is part of the plan, you must show up at the time, date, and location indicated on your citation. Failure to appear can result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
Some towns and counties offer you the convenience of simply paying your traffic ticket online. Since each jurisdiction handles things differently, you'll need to contact the court in the location where the ticket was issued to find out whether this is an option.

Telephone "conferences" for traffic tickets, especially in a large state like Texas would be a logistical NIGHTMARE. It isn't going to happen---out of state or not. They don't care if you cannot afford to appear....... you better show up, or at best, follow the directions listed on the ticket. But you can bet the barn and all the horses in it, settling this by telephone conference if you are required to appear isn't going to happen. If they didn't let you settle the TICKET without appearing, you can bet they aren't going to let you resolve a WARRANT without doing so.

Bottom line--once the warrant is issued your options are limited.

Now......with regard to the charges.......once the warrant is handled, and the case adjudicated, you may look into expungement, but if memory serves me, Texas does not expunge motor vehicle records. Since the warrant stems from the same, it will be difficult to have it removed.

I'd take care of this as soon as possible and do so by following the directions ON the ticket itself. Now that a warrant has been issued, I'd not trust taking care of it any other way than in person---it could surface again later. Paying "the amount you feel you are responsible for" so your "conscience is clear" really isn't the best route to go. Follow the instructions explicitly.

Good luck.
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Last edited by GentleGrace; 08-22-2009 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Right, thanks for clearing that up. I'm taking care of this as soon as possible and getting a lawyer, all that jazz.

And to clear some things up:

I wasn't a Texas resident for a year before I got in the accident. I was a resident for maybe a couple of weeks and was only down there for the sake of an internship. After that I didn't know how long I was staying. I got an in-state ID card but my driver's license remained the same (Wisconsin) since I wasn't driving I felt it didn't matter.

And as far as the Wisconsin insurance goes, I've heard about having to have financial means to back yourself up if you don't have insurance. It's like that in Texas from my experience as well and if you can't show them proof of insurance or financial backing they fine you. I was never fined in Wisconsin for not having insurance and I never got any flack about it from the cops that pulled me over. That's my experience, and that was in two or three different areas of Wisconsin in as many instances (I had a lead foot when I was in HS/College...heh). It was also the same story in Michigan. So the law may state one thing but they don't particularly enforce it, which is misleading to a young citizen - everyone else told me the same thing, that we weren't required to have insurance. If anyone has any similar stories or a different experience let me know.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Some courts will allow the phone conference on a rescheduled date due to the logistics, that is why I said to call them and find out what your options were, because she already missed the court date, now facing a bench warrant and she had better talk to someone asap if she's in Wisconsin and can't make that date either or she'll be flying or driving through the night to get it taken care of (which I agree she should try to do) as Grace said, these things do have a way of coming back to haunt you if not properly taken care of. Good luck
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't mean to belabor the point, but it is an important one.


First, it isn't a rescheduled date. Its a WARRANT.

And, going to traffic court is NEVER convenient---and the government doesn't care.

If they issued a warrant for failure to appear for a simple TRAFFIC TICKET (meaning she couldn't apparently just PAY the fine instead of appearing like many places allow) there is no way they are going to allow her to NOT appear especially now that the situation has escalated to a warrant.

If they want you in PERSON for a simple ticket many states just let you pay and/or send in the mail, you can bet they want her there for a warrant. And I personally know of know jurisdiction that allows "phone conferences" for criminal matters, especially only because it is inconvenient to appear........... I cannot find a single state that allows that. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I forgot the girl is now in Colorado so it's not that far to get to Texas. In Clear Creek County two years ago, a client had a warrant because he forgot to appear for a traffic ticket citation. The client was out of the country for about two months, had just left when a few days later he received notice of the warrant and realized he forgot the court date. It was winter, the roads were nasty, passes closed, his wife couldn't even go in his place. So we called the clerk of the court, they made arrangements with the judge (we really don't know what was said because they had us on hold forever), but the end result was the warrant was dismissed and the fine needed to be paid within the time frame they set and if it wasn't he would then get no more reprieve he would go to jail and have to appear. Maybe things are different in Colorado, I have known most of our county judges for nearly thirty years, I tend to think judges have a lot of latitude to decide the law based on a case by case basis. I don't know what would happen in Texas, but I still think she should call the court anyway and find out what she can do over the phone. They might say forget it you need to be here no matter what, which is what the law says she must do, but it's not going to hurt anything to make a phone call and explain the circumstances is it? I would rather waste my dime and make the call and have them tell me forget it, than not make the call and find out there was a possibility I could have resolved it without making a trip all the way to Texas. I understand what you are saying Grace, my point of view is not based on what the law says, it is based on "non lawyer telephone plea bargaining" it may be worth nothing, it may be worth everything, you never know
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A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there. Charles Darwin:
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