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FTA Bench Warrant in Civil Case likely?

Discussion in 'Civil Court, Procedure & Litigation' started by MrTack, Nov 14, 2014.

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  1. MrTack

    MrTack Law Topic Starter Banned

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    Hello everyone,

    A friend of mine left the U.S. five years ago with credit card debt which doesn't involve any fraud. In the meantime, he found out from a friend that a debt collection agency is suing him. There was a court summons found by his apartment door, and this was shortly after his departure from the States, about five years ago. Obviously, he wasn't able to appear in court. Whether a bench warrant has been issued is unknown to us.

    Meanwhile he is planning on returning to the U.S., although to a different state, where some of his relatives live. He plans on returning to the U.S. soon and to basically "start over". He has no property, just some money on one of his bank accounts. However, he plans to start returning the debt as much as possible once he settles down, finds a job and starts working. Now he has read on some websites on the internet that people get arrested at the airport for civil bench warrants, so here are my questions:

    1.) How likely is it that a "Failure-to-Appear" civil bench warrant was issued in such a case? He has no idea if this has happened, and not sure how to find out.

    2.) If such a warrant was really issued, what are the chances he would be arrested at the airport upon arrival (in a different state), and the possible consequences? Maybe extradition to the state that issued the warrant?

    3.) Are these Failure-to-Appear civil bench warrants actually enforceable across state lines, and are they saved in the system at the airports where Passports are scanned? Because as I said, he is returning to another state, not the one where the court summons was issued.

    Unfortunately, there is so much conflicting information on the internet regarding this. Some websites say it cannot happen, while others say it definitely will happen because a US customs officer will see it in the "NCIC" database, and that the person will be arrested and extradited. Other websites say something completely different, such as that in civil cases (ex: credit card debt) Failure-to-Appear bench warrants aren't even issued. They say that not showing up simply means you lose by default, because in this case they just issue a judgment against you.

    What is the truth here? If anyone could shed some light on this, it would be much appreciated. Thank you all in advance.

    Regards,
    Tack
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If he was sued for a debt, the debtor likely obtained a judgment.
    No one goes to jail or prison for failure to pay a debt in the USA.
    We can't say your buddy won't be arrested, but if he is arrested, it won't be for credit card debt.

    The other myth is that we have no FTA civil bench warrants upon which any law enforcement agent can arrest people. That never happens. Furthermore, people can be arrested (or refused entry ) at US ports of entry, for a broad array of criminal charges or immigration issues. From what you describe, criminal behavior isn't an issue with your pal.

    If he has funds in a US bank account, they are more at risk. If a debtor has obtained a civil judgment, that judgment could be used to levy against his accounts.

    Your pal might want to rethink his return to the US. These days, taxes are high, and people with smarts and funds are getting out. Large numbers of the well healed are renouncing their citizenship and seeking a new life in more tax friendly countries. There are 200 countries on this little planet, and at east 50 (perhaps more) meet or exceed the US in most areas.

    We've lost many of our freedoms (evidenced by the sexual molestation and mental torture we endure to board an airplane), our government confiscates our money under the guise of taxes, and there's talk of pardoning millions of uneducated and impoverished people, then granting the green cards and well funded benefit cards provided by the rest of us poor suckers. Do yourself a favor, don't come here, and subject yourself to voluntary servitude. Avoid the North American continent entirely, do investigate Asia, Oceania, Africa, The South Pacific, The Caribbean, and Europe.
     
  3. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Most likely the collection agcy. got a default judgment (on the credit card debt) against your friend since he didn't appear in court. He will not be arrested for this but if he comes back to the US, they might pursue collection of the judgment.
     
  4. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    Actually ... it does depend on the state, because some states (like California) CAN issue a civil bench warrant for the arrest of a person who fails to appear pursuant to a subpoena or other court order even in a civil matter.

    CCP §491.160, §708.170, §1209, and/or §1993.

    These warrants in CA typically have an expiration date and are unlikely to result in extradition from other jurisdictions. Other states may have different, but, similar, processes.
     
  5. MrTack

    MrTack Law Topic Starter Banned

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    This was a summons that was issued in the state of New York.

    Does that make things different?

    It also says on the document that "failure to appear will result in a judgment by default."

    So what are the chances in your opinion, of an airport arrest upon arrival in a different state?

    Thank you again.
     
  6. CdwJava

    CdwJava Moderator

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    An airport arrest for a civil warrant issued in NY is unlikely outside of NY. Heck, it might be unlikely outside the county where the warrant was issued. But, I am unfamiliar with these warrants outside of CA, so I couldn't say.

    Suffice it to say that NY does have a civl arrest warrant process if he ignored a court order. He might want to engage the services of an attorney to look into the assorted issues.
     
  7. MrTack

    MrTack Law Topic Starter Banned

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    Thank you all for your posts. I've confirmed with several sources that a bench warrant isn't issued for not responding to a summons. The court simply grants the debt collector a default judgment. Now this takes me to another question.

    A court can issue a bench warrant if the debtor ignores a subpeona to attend a creditor's exam. We have no idea if this happened, so my question is this:

    How likely is that to happen in such cases, and also how likely is it that this type of warrant issued in NY would be enforceable in other states, especially in the Passport system?

    Regards,
    MrTack
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    We've given you answers.
    We don't offer legal advice or legal opinions.
    He can stay safely where is located outside the US, and won't be arrested on any US junk warrant.
    Or, YOU can tell him to call several US attorneys at the PoE where he might attempt to enter the US.
    Another option, he can visit a nearby US consulate or the US Embassy and inquire of the US Embassy or Consular Officials.
    There are no iron clad guarantees in life.
    Life and each step you take offers great risk, and most risks are manageable.
    However, many risks can't be foretold, seen, or recognized until they are stabbing you in the back!!!
     
  9. MrTack

    MrTack Law Topic Starter Banned

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    Nope, not to the second question. To the first question yes. I've learned on this forum and elsewhere that a bench warrant isn't issued for not responding to a summons. The court simply grants the debt collector a default judgment. However this took me to an entirely different matter, and that is, if a person ignores a subpeona to appear in court for a debtor's examination to discuss his assets, the court can issue a civil bench warrant for contempt. So the second question is this:

    Would this type of warrant (civil bench warrant for contempt) issued in NY, be entered in the NCIC database? I've read that contempt of court in a civil suit is not a criminal offense, and is therefore not entered into the NCIC. Is there truth to this?

    That is the unanswered question.

    I really don't see any reason whatsoever to be rude. I know you don't offer legal advice, but you most certainly do offer opinions about legal matters, as this is a forum for discussions about the law. I already stated that I am thankful for your input. If you don't wish to respond, then simply don't. 50% of your first response was about trashing America, which was completely irrelevant to the topic.

    If I did something against forum rules by opening this thread, then I apologize.

    Regards,
    MrTack
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014

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