Do I need to get a lawyer? What will happen at my court date?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Do I need to get a lawyer? What will happen at my court date?

A lawyer is pursuing me over a supposed
1,800 overdraft from ten years ago. Its likely
from before my bankruptcy in 2006. A man at
US Bank said all my accounts were dismissed
and nothing went to collections, but I imagine
he could be wrong.
Yesterday, out of the blue, the law firm called
me nine times in three minutes. They called my
wife, too, and were verbally abusive to her.
They said they were trying to serve me court
papers but I havent received them yet. When I
spoke with them on the phone, they gave some
details. Im charged with theft by deception. I
was stunned. I had no clue what they were
talking about. I said I didnt know anything
about that and told them that I declared
medical bankruptcy. Then I said Id accept the
papers when they were served. At that point,
the man spoke quickly saying youve admitted
guilt, youre subject to 180 days in jail and
several thousand dollars in fines, this recorded
call will be used against you in court, goodbye.
Im scheduled for a court day on 10/9. What will
happen at that first court date?
I was subject to identity theft in 2008. Im not
sure if that affects things.

Asked on October 5, 2019 under Criminal Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

This sounds like a scam. First, if a private lawyer is pursuing you, this would not be a criminal case--it would be a civil lawsuit. For a criminal matter, you'd hear from police or prosecutor. Relating to that, if a supposed private attorney is claiming you will go to jail, then he is trying to scare you into giving them money with a threat he almost certainly cannot back up.
Second, if you did not admit guilt, then clearly they cannot use the recording against you, even in a valid proceeding. Third, if it is from 10 years ago, it should be too old to pursue--past the statute of limitations. Fourth, if it was pre-bankruptcy, then the bankruptcy should have discharged this debt, anyway.
If you received actual "court papers"--a summons and complaint, for example--show them to an attorney; the attorney can determine if there is any validity and what you should do. But if you have not yet received any court papers yet, you don't need to do anything--there is no legal proceeding until you are served. There is nothing happening until you are served. Most likely, they know the debt is too old and/or wiped out by bankruptcy and are simply trying to bluff or scare you into giving them money.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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