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  1. #1
    NoSurrender Guest

    Notice to Appear never received

    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?

    Sincerely,
    NoSurrender
  2. #2
    Lawswammy Guest
    What you should do is very simple: Appear. The fact that you are being inconvenienced by having to appear has no bearing on court proceedings. Court is the place to plead your case, not the mail or the phone.
  3. #3
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Notice to Appear never received

    Originally posted by NoSurrender
    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?

    Sincerely,
    NoSurrender
    **A: comply and conform to the AHJ.
  4. #4
    NoSurrender Guest
    Originally posted by Lawswammy
    What you should do is very simple: Appear. The fact that you are being inconvenienced by having to appear has no bearing on court proceedings. Court is the place to plead your case, not the mail or the phone.
    I understand what you are saying, LS. What I should have asked was not "What should I do?" but rather, "Do I have any other options?"

    Thanks
    NoSurrender
  5. #5
    NoSurrender Guest

    Re: Re: Notice to Appear never received

    Originally posted by HomeGuru
    **A: comply and conform to the AHJ.

    Forgive me... what is the AHJ?


    NoSurrender
  6. #6
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    The AHJ is the Authority Having Jurisdiction, which in your case is your local building department that enforces the adopted building code.
  7. #7
    NoSurrender Guest
    Originally posted by HomeGuru
    The AHJ is the Authority Having Jurisdiction, which in your case is your local building department that enforces the adopted building code.

    Thank you.

    Now therein lies the rub.... we did comply, wayyyy back in 1997, as I said in the original post. We were called by our neighbor, and informed that things had been dumped in the yard. We drove up and took care of it the next weekend... the same weekend we received the very first letter suggesting we clean up the place. We had already done it, or were close to finishing our clean up. We immediately walked down the street to the fire department, and told them we took care of it. That was not the problem at the time. The problem arose from the fire inspector's failure to re-inspect the property AFTER we complied.

    Don't think that we were causing problems... we wanted it all taken care of as much as the city did. We had already done most of the cleanup before we even knew that there was a letter.


    So, we did comply and conform with the AHJ. 100%. They just fogot to note that in the record.

    NoSurrender
  8. #8
    Lawswammy Guest
    I do not have all of the details but as a practical answer, any options that you may have had earlier on have since dissolved. If you want to save yourself a lot more heartache and money, appear and, as HomeGuru stated, conform to the AHJ. As legitimate as your reasons may be for not appearing initially, they will not be heard at this point
  9. #9
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Here is your mistake. When you complied, you should have sent your own certified rrr letter (with photos) confirming receipt of their letter and listing each and every item that was complied with. Then in court, you could have entered your file as evidence of your compliance and notice of same to the department.
    Next, at the time you were cited, you should have filed with the building board of appeals to keep the case out of the courts. I feel that there was a miscommunication between you and them, and now you are suffering the consequences.
  10. #10
    NoSurrender Guest
    Originally posted by Lawswammy
    I do not have all of the details but as a practical answer, any options that you may have had earlier on have since dissolved. If you want to save yourself a lot more heartache and money, appear and, as HomeGuru stated, conform to the AHJ. As legitimate as your reasons may be for not appearing initially, they will not be heard at this point

    Yes, I suppose any options I have had earlier have since disolved... but when you only received a rather simple, friendly letter from the fire department, and never receive the Notice to Appear (I have proof from the city inspector himself, copies of the unopened envelope marked returned by the post office) I guess they didn't even give me the options I may have had.

    I do understand that there is nothing I can do, and I am basically being screwed here. I have figured that out from the few posts in reply here. What I don't understand, is why my personal freedom has been jeopardized, and there isn't a thing I can do about it. When a person can have a bench warrent against them for not appearing for a hearing they were never notified of... well, that is just plain scary. I sincerely hope that they don't forget to inform me of something more serious that I am not guilty of!

    This is why no one trusts the courts to deliver substantial justice.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    NoSurrender
  11. #11
    NoSurrender Guest
    Originally posted by HomeGuru
    Here is your mistake. When you complied, you should have sent your own certified rrr letter (with photos) confirming receipt of their letter and listing each and every item that was complied with. Then in court, you could have entered your file as evidence of your compliance and notice of same to the department.
    Next, at the time you were cited, you should have filed with the building board of appeals to keep the case out of the courts. I feel that there was a miscommunication between you and them, and now you are suffering the consequences.

    I agree, I was too trusting. At the time, I was so young, and actually believed that the government and the courts worked exclusively with fairness and the truth. I have since changed my opinions on that matter.

    Incedently, they don't have any photos either.

    I have learned in these last years from bitter experience... Trust No One.

    Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. You can bet that I will not make this mistake ever again!

    No Surrender
  12. #12
    stephenk is offline Senior Member
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    Did you ever receive anything from the city indicating that the problem had been corrected?

    Do you still own the property?
  13. #13
    NoSurrender Guest
    Originally posted by stephenk
    Did you ever receive anything from the city indicating that the problem had been corrected?

    Do you still own the property?
    No, I did not receive anything. Just a smile and a handshake from the city inspector. Like I said, I was young, and very stupid, apparently for trusting anyone.

    No, I have not owned the property since 1997. Seems to me there would be a statute of limitations on this sort of thing!

    Thanks
    NoSurrender
  14. #14
    NoSurrender Guest

    RESOLUTION--sort of...

    Well, I just got a call from the district court, and from the city attorney. It appears that if I LIE and plead guilty to the original charge, and to a contempt charge, they will take my bond money and apply it to the fines and costs, in full.

    It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, to be forced to go against my religious convictions and LIE in order to end this mess. I sure hope that by doing this, I don't find that I have again been too trusting, and find myself in worse trouble!

    Thanks for everything
    No Surrender
  15. #15
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Then again, you can also hire an attorney to give you a second opinion.

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