Pending Bench Warrant

Asked about 4 years ago - Hunlock Creek, PA

Ok, someone please answer this for me. I swear this is not a joke-I received a traffic ticket. The officer made it a failure to obey speed enforcement device so that it would not be reported to penn dot and there would be no points off my license. I forgot about the ticket and when I was nearing the ten day deadline I hurried and scribbled a check to the magistrate for 109.00 and sent it immediately. A week later, I received a "pending bench warrant" for ....get this.....50 cents.(fine was 109.50) Ok, the stamp, paper and envelope it took to orchestrate this cost more than .50 cents! Is there a minimum amount that has to be owed before a bench warrant can be issued? Or can they really chase someone for 50 pennies? Does this borderline on harrassment? I paid it of course-but I am curious.

Additional information

I can't imagine a Judge or Court wasting their time on .50 cents. This "trooper" who pulled me over claimed I was going 60mph in a 45mph zone. I had happened to look down at my spedometer as I went over the hill and it said 50mph. So I was a bit suprised to be pulled over. And my spedometer is not off because when I drive through construction zones with the speed devices in place-my car and the devices speed calculation are right on. So did he really cut me a break? Maybe in some peoples eyes-but not mine. This is what is so very wrong with our justice system-too many corrupt people worried about .50 cents. And I say this as a former State Troopers wife-I know the B.S. that goes on-and the reason I asked this question is because in the ten years I spent in that world-I never, ever heard of anything more ridiculous than this.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Adam D. Zucker

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . First off with regard to the .50 cents, I've never heard of it in 20+ years of practice but every Magisterial District Judge is different. There is an urban legend going around that if you don't pay the exact amount of the ticket they can't cash your check and they can't find you guilty of the violation. This of course is hogwash but perhaps this particular court has experienced a lot of that. If you really want to know you can call the court and ask.

    As for the second part, well as you know being a former troopers wife there are good Troopers and really really bad troopers just like every other profession in this world. I have seen cops stop or search someone for no reason at all and give them what I call a pound of flesh ticket and they tell the person they are doing them a favor. Happens every day. But I have also seen folks get legitimate breaks so its hard to say if you really got a break or not. In a normal situation a 3111 (which is what you got) is a break.

  2. Adam D. Zucker

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . First off with regard to the .50 cents, I've never heard of it in 20+ years of practice but every Magisterial District Judge is different. There is an urban legend going around that if you don't pay the exact amount of the ticket they can't cash your check and they can't find you guilty of the violation. This of course is hogwash but perhaps this particular court has experienced a lot of that. If you really want to know you can call the court and ask.

    As for the second part, well as you know being a former troopers wife there are good Troopers and really really bad troopers just like every other profession in this world. I have seen cops stop or search someone for no reason at all and give them what I call a pound of flesh ticket and they tell the person they are doing them a favor. Happens every day. But I have also seen folks get legitimate breaks so its hard to say if you really got a break or not. In a normal situation a 3111 (which is what you got) is a break.

  3. Kevin Feeney

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . These things are computer generated. The computer shows a balance and it tells the clerk to print the letter and mail the threat for a bench warrant.

    I have had clients arrested for minor amounts. Once they are arrested the court adds the fees for the arrest and you end up paying costs plus several hundred in fees.

    You would like to think the system was cost efficient and would call you about the .50, but it is not. Computer says money owed the clerk sends out the notice.

    Pay it.

    Call you legislator.

  4. Peter J Tomao

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . Next time you get a break read the ticket more carefully and send out the check immediately. Thank your stars that the court didn't add a fee for the costs of sending you the notice. If you had underpaid the minimum amount on a credit card, the bank would have added a late fee of $25 or more. Glad to hear that you had the sense to pay the 50 cents rather than waiting to be arrested on the bench warrant.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

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