What t do if I just received an letter in the mail with “arrest warrant” stamped on the front?

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What t do if I just received an letter in the mail with “arrest warrant” stamped on the front?

When I opened it contained a letter from the solicitors office for a warrant for my arrest for a check that was written for $10 from about 17 years ago. I had not left the state until 7 years ago, so why did this take so long to find me? What are the limitations on this offense that I may have not even committed since I did not have an account with this bank at the time?

Asked on December 3, 2012 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your question is a little confusing because you note that you're in Texas, but you received a letter from the "solicitors office."  Texas has a district and county attorney system.  For a hot check, you would have most likely received a letter in the mail from the county attorney's office asking you to pay the $10 plus a hot check fee.  Texas does not place arrest warrants in the mail to defendants.

If this letter purports to be a Texas warrant, the details that you have provided look fraudulent.  A collector may be trying to scare you into paying $10.00 that you do not owe.  If this is the case, then you need to file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General.  Threatening to arrest someone for a consumer debt is specifically prohibited by the Texas and federal debt collection statutes.

If this was a letter that you received from out-of-state-- it may be valid.  Some states have "district attorneys", but a few call the same individuals "solicitors".    It is is still odd that it was stamped "arrest warrant."  Like in Texas, most agencies do not send arrest warrants to the defenant... they send them to a law enforcement agency to have you arrested.  Which again-- raises concerns that this may be an unethical debt collector.  If the letter is valid and is from a solicitors office, then you may have defense depending on the statute of limitations in the state where the case originated.  In Texas, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor is two years.  If the case had been filed, then after seventeen years, the case could be dismissed for a speedy trial or due diligence issue.  Not every state has the same rules as Texas, but most will have a much shorter time for misdemeanors-- which means the statute of limitations has probably run.  If it's a states with unusual rules, they probably will not extradite you for a $10 hot check. 

Assuming this is an out of state warrant, do your own research on the internet for the state and county where the letter is alleging this occurred. If the phone numbers are different than the one on your letter, call the number on the internet for the district attorney, county attorney, or solicitor general (which ever is applicable), and see if they sent the letter.  If they did not send the letter, then you need to file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General as mentioned above.  If they tell you the letter was legit, then advise them that they may have the wrong person since you never had an account with that bank.  Unfortunately, it's not unusual for the wrong person to be identified in a hot check allegation when two people have similar names and dates of birth.  

A final option is to visit with a criminal or consumer law attorney and let them just look at your information.  I gave you a somewhat lengthy response because there were multiple possibilities, but if someone can just look at what you have, they would be able to make a quicker assessment of the validity of the letter you received.

 


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