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  1. #1
    hidingineurope is offline Junior Member
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    Feb 2005
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    Unhappy long tale: two continents and a tropical island

    OK, so here is tale that stretches two continents and a tropical island:

    Prelude: I was a student in LA from 1993 to the summer of 1996. No money, no car, and a big fan of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. CA driving license.

    Summer of 1996: In a friend’s car I got a ticket (95 in 65 near Oceanside) just six days before I moved to Hawaii (to finish up University.) The ticket required a court appearance a few weeks later. This was just not a financial possibility for me. Hawaii has a great public transportation system, so I thought “deal with the ticket later when you have a job.” I believe this has resulted in a “failure to appear” bench warrant, but am not sure.

    Summer of 1997: While in Los Angeles for a friend’s wedding, I borrowed a car. Oops. Clearly stupid in hind site, but I was young, dumb, and …… Anyway, I got pulled over for an illegal U-turn. I had no ID on me, but the LAPD was fairly nice about it all considering the situation. For some reason my name did not show on their computers from the above ticket. I think it was because they spelt my name incorrectly, a fact I did not clarify, but am not sure. My friend’s truck was impounded for 30 days, and it cost me several hundred dollars to get it out. Another “failure to appear”?

    I have not driven an automobile since.

    Summer of 1998: I finish University and move to Europe where a job is waiting for me. Twice since then I have tried to clear up the above tickets but have been unable to navigate the California government bureaucracy from so far away.

    I feel a moral obligation to clear this little mess up, but am loath to drop thousands and thousands of dollars on this.

    November 2004: California has placed a $4700 tax lien on my credit report. I have a tax attorney looking at this now. I have been very correct and legitimate with my taxes and truly believe this to be an error…or could it be one or both of the above tickets? Since I do not live in the US now, the credit damage is of no consequence to me. I check my report every now and then to ensure there is no identity theft. (A very nasty predicament friends have suffered from.)

    Questions:
    - I gather the tickets will not magically go away, correct?
    - How long do the bench warrants stay active? (I do occasionally go to California to visit family—every two years or so. It is a concern.)
    - Is it possible that the tickets have made their way to Cali’s FTB?
    - Would the state be willing to negotiate down any fees, fines, etc. to something reasonable?

    Cheers for any constructive or informative comments,

    Stu
  2. #2
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    California
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    Quote Originally Posted by hidingineurope
    Questions:
    - I gather the tickets will not magically go away, correct?
    Correct.


    - How long do the bench warrants stay active? (I do occasionally go to California to visit family—every two years or so. It is a concern.)
    Until you are arrested or the issuing agency withdraws them.


    - Is it possible that the tickets have made their way to Cali’s FTB?
    It's very possible.


    - Would the state be willing to negotiate down any fees, fines, etc. to something reasonable?
    Their opinion might be that the fines and penalties ARE reasonable. But, you will almost certainly have to appear to clear it up. An attorney can pave the way for a smooth transition in and out of custody relatively quickly if done right.


    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  3. #3
    hidingineurope is offline Junior Member
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    Hi CdwJava,

    Thanks for the response. Some more questions for you if you do not mind:

    How could I determin if and how many benches warents their might be for myself?

    Could you please describe in more detail what you mean by a "smooth transition in and out of custody"?

    Cheers,

    Stu
  4. #4
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by hidingineurope
    How could I determin if and how many benches warents their might be for myself?
    You would have to call the courts in the counties where you might have warrants and they MIGHT tell you. They are under no obligation to do so, however.

    If you obtain an attorney, he/she can probably track that information down for you.

    Could you please describe in more detail what you mean by a "smooth transition in and out of custody"?
    An attorney might be able to arrange all the details in the court or courts that hold you so that you could appear, arrange for bail or another court date, and either be booked and quickly released, or not booked at all.

    If all the details are worked out in advance - money put together, cases bundled nicely, etc. - then the case can be handled expeditiously and the matter resolved.

    I am a little surprised at the $4700 tax lien, though. You may have to do a little mor epoking to determine that source. While it IS possible (I suppose) that this has been made by the government agencies seeking restitution for the citations, I have not heard of such a thing happening in that way. What it MIGHT be is that the fines have been turned over to a collections agency and they have levied a tax lien.

    An attorney might be able to clear this up for you as well.

    How much all this might cost, I don't know. But it wouldn't be cheap. However, getting tossed in the clink and being denied bail (since you live outside the country, bail is not necessarily an automatic event), might be a tad more expensive.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  5. #5
    hidingineurope is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    4
    Hi CdwJava,

    Thanks again for the response.

    As I stated earlier, a tax attorney is currently investigating the lien. My gut feeling is that is is a mistake tied to my departure from California and later the country. (Americans overseas face very complex tax rules and regulations. Initially my returns were completed by myself, and I made a right mess of it. A professional has sorted this entire mess out for me at the IRS level.)

    My gut feeling, along with your implied statement that this would kind of action by the state would be unusual, makes me lean towards the tickets having no connection to the FSB tax lien.

    So that leaves my little unpaid traffic ticket mess, which at present I am not doing anything about. My tax attorney is clearly inappropriate.

    Question: If I were to look for an attorney to interface with the courts, what 'type' would I be looking for?
    Cheers,

    Stu

    PS: Wow...as I write this the depth of my civil administrative incompetence is sinking in...
  6. #6
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
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    Location
    California
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    With budgets being tight, it IS possible that local governments are sending outstanding citations to collections agencies for payment. So it IS possible that they are connected to the tickets, but it's not something I have heard of at my level on the food chain.

    As for an attorney, you would probably need one that sepcializes in traffic matters to address these cites ... but, given the length of time that has passed, I would suggest someone a little more than the low-level "traffic clinic" attorney.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  7. #7
    hidingineurope is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    4
    OK, we will see what the tax lawyer says. I think tax liens are separate, different, and considerably more serious than a simple outstanding debt with a private company. Again, we will see...

    Looking for a lawyer tonight and will see where it goes. I will post back if anything exciting happens.

    Thanks again,

    Stu

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