I have a sticky situation. I was pulled over for expired registration tags and failure to show proof of insurance while driving my now ex-girlfriend's car. The time period before the initial court hearing was very hectic and stressful and I somehow managed to put the court date out of mind and totally forgot about it. It wasn't until recently that I found the citation while going through some papers that I had put away. The court date was a little over 2 months ago. While I have not received anything in the mail regarding this, I am pretty sure it is now a failure to appear and there is most likely a bench warranty out. My situation now is that I am across the country (truck driver) and have no way to take off of work to return to my home state of Kentucky to clear this up. I just want to get this cleared up and off of my record ASAP. I cannot afford a lawyer and was wondering what my alternatives would be? I'm debating on just calling the Commonwealth attorney and see if they will agree to letting me pay the fines and court costs to resolve the matter. I happen to know one of them from Church years ago. Or should I call the public defenders office first?
Well, first, you have a job, so you are likely not eligible for public defender. Plus, I'm pretty sure the public defenders office does not handle traffic citations. If you can't afford an attorney, call the prosecutor and see what you can get done. Otherwise, hire an attorney.
Most jurisdictions allow for an arbitrary period of time (ex: 30 days) where a defendant can address a FTA (Failure to Appear) either by mailing or an in-person appearance; if left unaddressed past the period of time, the judge will likely issue a bench warrant. The latter seems likely for your situation. You should note that once a bench warrant is issued, most courts will not rescind the warrant unless the defendant physically shows up and posts the listed bail. However, pertinent to yourself, some courts allow for an attorney to send a letter of representation, along with a motion to recall a warrant, before they place you back on the court calendar to be heard (they allow for this since the whole point of the warrant is to force the person to appear and address the legal matter, and once the resources are spent to retain an attorney, courts are confident that the defendant will now address the issue). Contacting the PD's office prior to your warrant being lifted will not sufffice. The court will likely need you to post bail in person (at which point you would first be arrested), or receive a Motion to Recall Warrant from a private attorney.
You need to handle this matter immediately because there is a good chance that your operators license was suspended when you did not appear for court. This is what typically happens when a person does not appear for court after being cited for a moving violation. The Commonwealth attorney's office is not the correct prosecutorial body on your case. In Kentucky the County Attorney's office prosecutes traffic violations. Since you are a truck driver and there is a high probability that your license is suspended this may be an instance where you can not afford to not contact a lawyer. A lawyer could appear for you and have the suspension recalled.
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