My room mate recieved a letter in the mail that she has an arrest warrent. There are no charges on this notice , nor is there a court date. Just where she can pay the money to if she wants to get it resolved. She has no criminal record. Yet a few months ago she was arrested , spent the night in jail but was never charged with anything. And now this. She has tried to contact the arresting officer to find out what’s going on but cannot get ahold of him. What should she do?
Welcome to the SDMB, spagakk69.
Questions that seek legal (and other) advice belong in our In My Humble Opinion forum. You don’t need to do anything. I will move this thread for you.
Also, please keep in mind that any advice you get here is just the opinion of some folks on the internet, and shouldn’t be considered the equivalent of professional legal advice.
Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.
Assuming it is legitimate and not some kind of cleaver scam, she should contact the relevant law enforcement authority, not the arresting officer, and ask what it is about.
I would go down to the place where I was taken to after I was arrested and keep working my way up the chain of command until I speak to someone who knows what is going on. I don’t think she needs to get a lawyer yet, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea…
Unless the system is very different in the USA, this has “scam” written all over it; I seriously doubt any American authority sends you nice letters saying there is a warrant out for your arrest and leave out basic pertinent details such as the charge. It sounds like a variation of the arrest warrant scam.
dolphinboy is correct: go to the relevant law enforcement authority with the letter. Chances are that your room mate will not be the first to have received such a letter and that the police will be too familiar with this scam.
The fact that your roommate was arrested is public record. Perhaps someone is sending out such letters to people who were arrested? In other words, it sounds like a scam to me.
An arrest warrant wouldn’t have a court date because it’s simply an order allowing the arrest of the named individual. It also doesn’t necessarily have to list any charges. Did you friend miss a court date by any chance? A lot of bench warrants are issued simply because individuals don’t realize they were supposed to appear at a court hearing following an arrest.
Is there a signature on the warrant? If so, contact the court for info.
If “warrant” is really spelled “warrent”, I’d assume the letter illegitimate and dispose of it.
It does sound like a scam, but the consequences of ignoring it, if genuine, could be serious.
I was almost the victim of something like this years ago, before scams were invented.
I was arrested, booked and jailed overnight on the supposed charge of interfering with a police officer. At my court appearance, the judge said that no charges had been filed and I was free to go. I was pissed because it looked like that was what the arresting officer had planned all along – let the perp cool his heels in the jail and get a dose of blue humiliation.
That’s it, right? Not so fast. A year later, an officer appeared at my home with a valid bench warrant for my arrest. Had I been there, I would have been taken to jail for I don’t know how long, although it’s doubtful if I could have been convicted of anything in the long run. The charge was just too flimsy.
Since I wasn’t living at that address, the officer left papers and my family notified me of the situation (they were hip enough to not give out my new address). From an anonymous phone number, I contacted the judge who issued the bench warrant, and described the events. He looked up the record, and told me that the warrant had been issued because I failed to show up to face charges filed after the first court date.
He was extremely candid about how things worked, and admitted that cops sometimes get a real hair up their asses and decide to “teach the punk a lesson.” They deliberately wait until after the first court appearance, when the perp thinks things are cool, then they file new charges and are able to suppress notification of such by “accidentally” putting the warrant/notice in a drawer somewhere for a while. Later, they dig those out, and since the “criminal” wasn’t notified, and he didn’t show up, they have the judge issue a new bench warrant.
The judge said he would be glad to clear the matter up and didn’t see a problem, so I should call him if I was ever in town. I said, “Ha! Thanks, but no thanks.” So far, I have not been extradited to that state and the cop and judge are probably dead by now, anyway. I don’t lose much sleep over this.
So the moral is, don’t assume it’s a scam until you can be sure. If in doubt, see an attorney.
Unless it’s something like an unpaid parking ticket (which wouldn’t justify arrest anyway). You can’t get out of a true arrest warrant by sending in money. However, if you fear it might be leg, call a criminal defense attorney to check it out, not the cops.