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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    2

    Default Bench Warrant Avoidance

    My question involves an arrest warrant from the State of: Michigan

    I recently was ticketed for a "bicycle violation" in a city in Michigan. I challenged the ticket in court since I thought that the charge was completely ridiculous. The officer ignored a car driver threatening to "beat the shit out of me" and swerving into myself and my friends and decided to pull me over.

    At the court date the judge ignored my testimony and said that I was on the road for "no good reason" and found me responsible. I was not in court to decide whether I was on the road for good reason or not, I was there to decide whether I had committed a "bicycle violation" or not. I left the court and refused to pay the fine. I cannot appeal the decision since I have no money. My only options were to 1. pay the fine or 2. pay the fine (bond) to appeal.

    Now I have been told I am in "contempt of court" for refusing the pay and skipping the next court date and a bench warrant has been issued for my arrest. I live about 30 miles from this city and I don't think this is a big deal but the letter they sent sounded serious for such a petty ticket. They said they informed state police agencies and would come to my house. What are the chances of this? I really don't feel like borrowing $210 to appeal this decision and I also don't feel like being arrested. I can't imagine they would spend any time trying to track down a cyclist who doesn't even live in or near their city. :/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    9,096

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    A bench warrant will NEVER go away. Ever.

    And yes, for 30 miles, the next time you get pulled over or someone runs your license plate, you go to jail until the jurisdiction holding the warrant decides whether it wants you or not.

    I don't see why you think you can appeal. You need more than disappointment in the verdict for an appeal to be granted.

    What is your reason for appeal?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    It sounds like you are in the statewide database, if they did as they stated. That means any police interaction could result in you being arrested. As to coming to your house; for such a thing they generally do not hunt folks down but there is nothing preventing them from doing such. If you pissed them off enough, maybe they are actually going to go the extra mile and come to your house.


    it's a gamble. The warrant is there. It won't go away until you take care of it or you are arrested.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2007
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    9,096

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    Was this a traffic offense?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    2

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    It's not that I "don't like" the verdict, it's that I find it unjust. I was at a hearing to determine whether I committed a "bicycle violation" (whatever that means is really up to interpretation) and instead the judge ignored me giving justification for being out of the right lane and just said, "oh I agree with the officer you were not on the road for any good purpose." completely ignoring the charge and focusing on the behavior of other cyclists and other non-issues related to me.

    I don't know if it is considered a traffic offense, probably is since I was in the road, but you never know.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2007
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    9,096

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    Quote Quoting barberanne
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    It's not that I "don't like" the verdict, it's that I find it unjust.
    Honestly, I assumed that when you stormed out of the court room.

    However, your thought that it is unjust is not enough for an appeal... unless there is a point of law that allows it.

    I was at a hearing to determine whether I committed a "bicycle violation" (whatever that means is really up to interpretation) and instead the judge ignored me giving justification for being out of the right lane and just said, "oh I agree with the officer you were not on the road for any good purpose." completely ignoring the charge and focusing on the behavior of other cyclists and other non-issues related to me.
    So, what you are saying is that you DID violate the law by being in the right lane of traffic but that you have a very good reason for violating the law?

    While you may be right and I may even agree with you, the judge does not have to accept your reason as justification for your act.

    You broke the law, correct? Some judges are pretty black and white about that.

    I don't know if it is considered a traffic offense, probably is since I was in the road, but you never know.
    Can you give us the statute number under which you were charged?

    Let me say this, though. Any chance you may have had for a reasonable judicial conversation was pretty much squashed the moment the bench warrant was sworn.

    You HAD your trial and you failed to appear. You were found guilty.

    No do overs. You had your opportunity in court and didn't appear. The court does not have to make your case for you or to guess at your testimony.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    Oh, I see what happened now, I think. You left the bicycle lane and entered the normal driving lanes. Your claim is that a car attempted to hit you. The judge either did not believe you or did not find the action of the driver enough to cause you to be outside of the bicycle lane and subsequently found you guilty. Correct?

    this statement:

    .
    I was not in court to decide whether I was on the road for good reason or not, I was there to decide whether I had committed a "bicycle violation" or not.
    threw me off of what you were being charged with. Yes, you were in court to decide if you were "on the road" as opposed to the bicycle lane (or wherever you should have been) for some good reason.

    So, the judge did not accept your justification for being on the road (I now understand that as a reference to being outside of where a bicycle should be riding) and subsequently found you guilty. Since you were not happy with the verdict, you are now faced with a warrant for your arrest because you refused to pay the fine or contest the finding.

    Not a brilliant move on your part.

    I strongly suggest you find a way to pay the fine and hope the court accepts that and rescinds the warrant. Should you continue to refuse to pay the fine, I would think you will eventually find yourself in jail for a very simple problem. Not a bright move from my perspective.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Bench Warrant Avoidance

    Quote Quoting cyjeff
    View Post
    A bench warrant will NEVER go away. Ever.

    And yes, for 30 miles, the next time you get pulled over or someone runs your license plate, you go to jail until the jurisdiction holding the warrant decides whether it wants you or not.
    A point many folks don't grasp here is that if you are legally detained/arrested, you will likely be searched incident to arrest. Under certain conditions areas in your vehicle can also be searched. Anything illegal found can now be the basis for another charge, possibly way more serious than what the bench warrant is for.

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