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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    5

    Default Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: Michigan

    I was pulled over last week by the police. Upon running my information on their computers, it was found that I had a bench warrant issued in 2005 for Failure to Appear. The bond was set at $300, which I paid on the spot and received a receipt with a arraignment date for next week. I called the courthouse and was informed that this is about a small claims suit that I did not attend where a default judgement was made against me. I did receive a summons for this case originally and I willfully did not attend. Upon looking into this, I'm thinking that the warrant pertains more to a show cause than missing the case itself.
    Obviously I made a mistake by not attending which I can't change now. I would like to just get past this. I do not have a prior history of any criminal activity. What can I expect from this arraignment?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    74,144

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    Presumably you were subpoenaed to a creditor's exam and chose to ignore the subpoena. I suggest taking your checkbook, so that you're prepared to pay off the judgment and any fine the court may impose for contempt.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    5

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    Thanks for your response, Mr. Knowitall. Taking my checkbook is the biggest thing that I'm worried about. My financial resources are very limited. The plaintiff in this case has tried to garnish me but it always fails because of my child support...which I have a good record on.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    9,683

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    Judges understand not being able to pay. They don't understand you blowing them off personally which is how many take it when you don't show. Your situation doesn't get any better for not showing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    5

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    Agreed. A mistake that I will not make again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    638

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    I would go to the hearing, find out what the court wants, and apologize. Then if you have fees or fines to pay, simply tell the judge you don't have the money and ask for a payment plan.

    Be very polite and remorseful. Take full responsibility because you have no defense. Put yourself on the mercy of the court for your mistake. Judges know they can't get blood from a stone and your showing up will impress. The judge can reduce what you owe, set up a payment plan, or both.

    Get a haircut, dress nicely and conservatively (it doesn't need to be a suit,) say yes your honor, admit you owe, and ask for assistance in a payment plan. Your bail should be refundable and can be applied to what you owe. I think it will go better than you may be thinking.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    OH10
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    14,266

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    There has recently been several news articles relating to this type of issue as the return of debtors prison. When someone is sued and fails to show up for court, a contempt of court warrant is issued. If they cannot afford to make it right with the court they go to jail.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    Thank you for the advice cmre3456. It probably will go better than I initially thought, I'm just not used to courtroom kinda stuff. It had been twenty or so years since I've last even been pulled over..I think that I was a victim of having to work at 4:30 in the morning lol. The policeman was really nice and even followed me to the nearest ATM which was about two miles away so that I could post bond on the spot

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    638

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    Well, since the bail was a predetermined amount and you paid it, there is some possibility that this is all you owe. That's not necessarily true, but it's possible. There is a reason that the bail was set at a sum certain. If you get really lucky, you may find that you've already paid what you owe, and that the court just wants you to show up and take responsibility for failure to appear.

    If you show up looking like and acting as I said, you may find yourself off the hook. On the other hand if you owe more, you should be able to get a payment plan.

    Again, often the bail is the amount owed but I can't know that for sure.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear Small Claims

    I just got back from court a little bit ago. Interestingly enough, the fine ended up being $150. He applied the remaining half towards the amount owed, which I question the legality of in Michigan. The bailiff oddly enough also questioned it privately to me and the clerk did not have that option in his computer so he talked to two of his bosses and told me that he could not produce a receipt at this time, that he would mail it to me. I did not question the judge about it as he has been studying law his whole life and I've only been reading about it on the net for less than a week.
    I have underlying reasons on not wanting to pay this guy unless I have too. I offered him a payment plan of $25 a week through the Michigan Mediation representative before this went to court....he refused it and decided to take me to court instead. He wanted his money quickly even though he knew that I lost everything via divorce.
    Anyone here have any experience with the court actually collecting money for the plaintiff in a seven year old small claims judgement?

    - - - Updated - - -

    In Michigan, I might add...I understand that there are states where this can happen.

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