I forgot about the ticket because of all my drinking...
August 11, 2009 9:53 PM   Subscribe

So I probably have a warrant out for my arrest on a very old (3 years ) ticket for possible public consumption, in New York City. I want to take care of this, but what repercussions can I expect? Do I go to the courthouse and turn myself in? Will my fine be exorbitantly higher than the ticket? Additionally, I need to renew my license in Brooklyn before my upcoming birthday. Would I be able to do this if I do in fact have a bench warrant? This is my first "I screwed up" question, so please take it easy on me! Thanks!
posted by apetpsychic to Law & Government (11 answers total)
Response by poster: I appreciate the advice, but unfortunately it is not a real first option for me. Ideally I would, but I have no money, and no income at the moment.
posted by apetpsychic at 10:29 PM on August 11, 2009

I believe the resource you need is: Legal Aid
posted by legotech at 12:46 AM on August 12, 2009

There was a similar previous AskMe that you might find helpful.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:28 AM on August 12, 2009

Best answer: Legal aid attorneys do not handle public consumption tickets. Don't waste the poster's time by sending him to a legal aid group.
posted by The Straightener at 4:49 AM on August 12, 2009

Many lawyers will do a free first consult over the phone to help you understand your options. It's good business practice. Start calling (or asking friends) until you find a couple of lawyers who do that.
posted by mediareport at 5:12 AM on August 12, 2009

Best answer: DO NOT JUST GO IN!

I had a friend in a similar situation with an old speeding ticket. He called the court to ask how to resolve it. They told him not to worry, just come in and take care of the fine. He showed up as asked, was arrested and ended up spending the night in jail.

The system doesn't care about you. Cops can and will lie to you.
Get legal advice before doing anything.
posted by anti social order at 5:34 AM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

Ask here. They seem to know more than us.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:06 AM on August 12, 2009

They can't arrest you over the phone, can they? Call and ask.
posted by kenbennedy at 7:55 AM on August 12, 2009

They can't arrest you over the phone, can they? Call and ask.

No, but they can lie to you! EXACTLY what anti social order mentions above has happened to a family member of mine.
posted by peep at 8:47 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had a ticket for being in Seward Park after hours in the LES. I missed my court date by months (though not years, as in your case). Eventually, I called the Manhattan court where I should have gone to make my appearance, and was told there would be a bench warrant for my arrest if I'd missed my court date.

I went in to the courthouse downtown on Broadway the next day, was directed to a courtroom, and waited for a few hours (they take scofflaws like you and me after everyone else who actually had an appointed court date). The judge--I think he was technically a judge, but they called the process something else, b/c it wasn't a trial or anything--scolded me for about 15 seconds and let me know that they'd erase the bench warrant and it'd never appear on the "permanent record" if I didn't fuck up again inside the next year. I nodded and apologized and was out in under a minute after going up in front of him.

Simple as that. I don't know if it'll be the same for you, but it sounds similar--minor offense in NYC, missed court date with no real valid explanation. You'll have to deal with it eventually, and you don't want it to be next time you get pulled over or whatever. I'd say call and go in.
posted by andromache at 8:52 AM on August 12, 2009

I stumbled upon this interesting bulletin board recently while trying to find out info on car exhaust laws in NYC - Ask a Police Officer - might be useful for you, although the Expert Law forums CunningLinguist linked to might be more appropriate for you.

Definitely try to protect yourself before just showing up. While I haven't had a bench warrant before, I've been to the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn and I didn't find it to be the friendliest place - and I was only there to find out about changing my name :)

Good luck!
posted by jacquilinala at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2009

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