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Citizen Warrants - Bad Idea

Discussion in 'Parking Tickets, Towing, Impound' started by PaddikJ, Sep 19, 2009.

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  1. PaddikJ

    PaddikJ Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I originally posted this on an older thread, but getting only one response, have decided to start a new thread. Professional opinions will be greatly appreciated.

    We were driving home on a rural but busy highway (US 285, through South Park, for those familiar w/ Colorado). Typical Sunday driving conditions - I passed a few RVs & trucks, and got passed by a few sedans (we were in a van). All of a sudden, there's a county patrol car behind me w/ lights flashing. I take the next pullout & am informed that someone has accused me of careless driving - says I cut in too quick while passing & followed too close before that. The officer issues a ticket/summons.

    I'm shocked: Several years before, someone pulled out directly in front of me from a service yard at the entrance to a tunnel on a busy interstate; if there hadn't been a lucky break in the left lane traffic, I'd have creamed them for sure - in the tunnel. I got make & license number & called the police once out of the tunnel. Unlike the person who accused me & got a visit from an obliging officer, I had to drive to a police station to fill out a report, and the desk officer apologetically informed me that since there were no other witnesses, there wasn't much he could do. I told him I understood - not in a million years would I expect that they'd issue a summons based just on my say-so. I just thought if they saw the vehicle they might stop it & inform the driver about what she almost caused.

    So I'm a little irritated that my choices are to pay the rather stiff fine & take 2 points on my license, or to make a 180 mile round trip, but I choose the latter & appear in court this morning, only to find that it's only an arraignment, and I still have another court date (this, after pleading not guilty). But I did ask the Judge to dismiss the charge: Since it rested soley on the uncorroborated accusation of one individual - no witnesses, no one else complained about my driving - I naively thought that that put it well within Reasonable Doubt, if not frivolous. The Judge seemed a little amused, and informed me that the courts regard an unsupported accusation as sufficient reason to hold a trial (I resisted the urge to ask the Judge if he would feel that way if I hung around until quitting time, and then issued a Citizen's Complaint if he failed to come to a complete stop before exiting the courthouse parking lot).

    Am I the only one that thinks this is nuts? That anyone who gets pissed at you on the road, for any reason, can swear out a complaint & have you dragged into court? Would I be foolish to tell the Judge at my next appearance that my position has not changed - that it's a he said/he said situation, and that, de-facto, there's reasonable doubt? I thought this was a foundational legal concept.

    Lastly (really!): I just learned that my accuser is from out of state, so there's a good chance he won't show. In that case, should the case be dismissed? I do have the right to confront my accuser, right?

    Thanks much,

    PJ in Colorado
     
  2. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    I am not sure what kind of reply you want. Most states do not have such a thing as a civil warrant, but some states do. Since an arraignment is not about establishing probable cause, then unless you file a motion to compel a hearing on cause (not sure what that might be in CO) you will have to go to trial. It is at TRIAL that "reasonable doubt" comes into play, not at arraignment.

    You might consider consulting an attorney on the matter. he or she might be able to make it go away with little difficulty. If it is truly a "Yes he did," and "No I didn't," sort of case, then I suspect reasonable doubt will be built in unless one of you comes across as entirely non-credible.

    - Carl
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If you do end up in trial then the person who made the complaint against you has to appear as well. The officer did not witness the violation and can not testify against you. The officer CAN testify regarding any statements you made to him.
    Personally, I think this is bogus and easy to beat. It is a wonder how it even got so far. See if you can file motion to dismiss through the mail so you don't have to keep going back to court. If you do end up in court then just make it a point to ask who made the complaint. If that person isn't there then you should be fine.
     
  4. jharris352

    jharris352 New Member

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    Unfortunately you are not going to be able to handle this through the mail. You are going to have to appear. Had you realized that the first hearing was an arraignment you could have probably done a waiver of arraignment through the mail. How important is this to you? Or rather, how important is not making the trip to you? If you hire an attorney in the town where the court is, he/she can probably get on the phone with the Solicitor's office and squash this without you having to appear. I do think it is silly. Why on earth any State would allow civil warrants I don't know. It's an invitation to use the criminal process to harass people on the road.

    If you really are ticked and want to play tit for tat bring a small claims court suit for false accusations if the complainant doesn't appear. Then you can travel back and forth for that too. It's probably not worth it I know. I would try the attorney if you don't want to travel. $150-250 should do it and I can't imagine that you would lose.
     

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