dealing with a warrant from an unpaid ticket
July 5, 2016 1:11 PM   Subscribe

How do I take care of an unpaid ticket after a warrant has been issued?

This started with a citation for an expired tag. I did get the tag renewed, but I'm an idiot and forgot to pay the citation, and now I've received a notice that a warrant for my arrest has been issued. The notice says "a cash/credit card bond has been issued and a $50.00 warrant fee has been assessed. Please contact the court immediately for the total bond amount."

I checked to see if I could still pay the citation online, and I am no longer eligible. I just want to pay it and get it resolved. I'm kind of scared because a friend told me that if I go to pay it in person, they might arrest me. What is the best way to deal with this?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (14 answers total)
A city and state would help answer this question.
posted by Karaage at 1:13 PM on July 5, 2016

Why not contact the court immediately for the total bond amount, as suggested on the notice?

Are there other notices or instructions re getting this taken care of? Phone numbers to call?

This might be white privilege talking, but most likely they don't want to arrest you, they want their money/for you to make it right with the relevant local agency. Certainly if you live in a large city where the police have actual crime to solve, they're not going to mess with you in a situation like this. (Again, white privilege talking.)
posted by Sara C. at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

The city I live in has an amnesty day every once in a while, maybe once a year, on that day you can go in and pay any fines related to issues like this with no arrest, booking or questions asked.
posted by Justin Case at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2016

If they wanted to arrest you, then they could send the police to the address where they sent the notice. They want their money.

Is there a number to contact the court on the notice? If not, then check the website. If you have the admins update this with your location, some helpful mefite will probably be able to ferret out a number for you.
posted by 26.2 at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anonymous, if you want to provide a city and state (or any other pertinent info) you can tell the mods via the contact form link at the bottom of the page, and they'll let us know on your behalf.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:39 PM on July 5, 2016

Also, if you provide a city and state, we might be able to direct you to your local public defender or a friendly local defense lawyer who could walk you through what the process of turning yourself in on a warrant for an unpaid ticket would look like in your jurisdiction. Might give you some peace of mind to speak to an attorney so that you'll know what to expect, and because a lawyer familiar with your jurisdiction might be able to give you advice about ways to make things easier on yourself.

(For example, where I practice, there are certain times of day and days of the week where if you turn yourself in then, you're less likely to spend a lot of time in lockup because of the times the court accepts new cases each day. If you were in my jurisdiction, I still wouldn't be able to give you any legal advice about your case, but I might be able to tell you, just for example, which police districts tend to get people to court the fastest so that you're less likely to miss the court's cut off time.)
posted by decathecting at 1:49 PM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

call the number on the notice, get the money, go where they tell you to go to pay your "bond" + the $50 "warrant" & you will be out of there. "arrest" & "ticket" is the same thing in this case. If you choose to ignore it & you happen to cross paths with law enforcement they WILL arrest you, as in cuffed & stuffed, I don't care what color "privilege" you may have. Any LEO's care to chime in?
posted by patnok at 2:03 PM on July 5, 2016

IAAL, IANYL, TINLA. Call the number and pay, which you might be able to do over the phone. If you were to have contact with an LEO in my jurisdiction and you could pay, we'd have you pay and catch and release you that same day.
posted by notjustthefish at 2:20 PM on July 5, 2016

I will not give you legal advice, but I'll tell you how it went when I worked a bit on the prosecution side in a major city. The warrants issued in such situations were basically the lowest of low priorities - there were SO MANY of them and such bigger fish to fry. If you went in person to pay it off (assuming payment in full) they would definitely not arrest you. In fact they might also confirm right there that the warrant had been lifted. Which at this point is something you should do for sure after you pay, no matter the payment method - make sure the warrant got purged / removed. Probably worth asking a lawyer about unless your city has a very clear and easy process for checking on your own.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:27 PM on July 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

If it helps pretty much everyone involved in this would be happiest if you just paid the darn bail/fine whatever. The courts and police sure as heck don't want to deal with someone who forgot to pay a ticket. They just want the fine paid with as little nuisance as possible.

Call the number and say you're trying to pay the fine and they'll point you in the right direction.
posted by bitdamaged at 5:11 PM on July 5, 2016

Call them to arrange a court date.
posted by corb at 6:06 PM on July 5, 2016

And this is why you need to know how it works in your specific jurisdiction. Because some places, you may be able to avoid getting taken into custody at all, and some places not, and you need to know which you're in and how it works.
posted by decathecting at 9:55 PM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, and definitely don't take legal advice from "a friend," much less from strangers on the internet who assure you that they are not giving you legal advice.
posted by decathecting at 9:57 PM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

You want to take care of this immediately because if you're pulled over for some other minor violation, they may impound your car and/or arrest you (or not, I don't know your area).
I was in a similar situation (didn't pay a moving violation), and only heard about the warrant when I went to reregister my drivers license. I went to the courthouse, set an appointment, and when finally in front of the judge admitted my fault and negligence, and he lowered the bail amount.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 8:36 PM on July 9, 2016

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