What is the name of your state? Michigan
I have been served a Notice to Appear in District court for a Building code violation from 1997.
On May 30, 1997 a letter was sent by the fire department regarding a home I owned at that time, but was vacant, as we had moved in 1996. It listed three items to be resolved by June 30, 1997. The letter was received by us, via certified mail, on June 30, 1997. Ironically, it was delivered to us on a day we had returned to take care the problem, because we had received a phonecall from our friend and neighbor, letting us know that someone had dumped some things in the yard. The original letter was not received by us until the day that we actually did the clean up.
A re-inspection was done June 24, 1997-- six days before we received the original letter that there was a problem! No further inspections were carried out. It was also two days __BEFORE__ they even sent the original letter by certified mail, and the same date that an Appearance Ticket/Complaint was written, to ask that we appear before 7/2/1997. THIS WAS NEVER RECEIVED by us, having been returned to the fire department, as it was sent to an incorrect address. I have proof of all of this.
We spoke in person to the inspector at the fire department the same day we received the original complaint, (6/30/97) , and informed him that we had complied with all but one item before we even received the original letter. We would return to comply with the final item at a later date, within two weeks. He put a hold on the case, and was very pleasant. We took care of the final item, and let him know it was done.
The property was not re-inspected after 6/24/97. All items were taken care of properly. We assumed this was all handled, and knew nothing of the Appearance Ticket/Complaint, which should have been canceled, anyway.
Now, here is the current situation: I was nearly arrested recently, as the district court went ahead with the hearing, and I was apparently fined $146 for not complying. There was a bench warrent for me! I had to pay $150 bond or the officer said he would arrest me.
I am currently being retried on this building code violation, and am required to make a long trip, miss work and school for the children, to take care of this. I have repeatedly tried to handle this by phone and mail, but they insist that I must appear. I asked if I was entitled to an attorney, but was told that one would not be provided, as this was not a jailable offense.
Can I be held in contempt for the failure to appear for a ticket that I can prove I never received? How can I be retried for the building code violation that I was already ordered to pay $146 for? I am really confused by this. I offered to pay the money, just because it would be cheaper than the money I will be out if I go up there, but they said I must still appear.
I am unsure of how to handle this matter. I feel that my rights have been sorely violated. I was subjected to extreme humiliation over something that was handled years ago.
There is no proof that I did not comply, and much proof that I was not informed.
What should I do?