Crimes vs. Civil Disputes

Apparently the Star Tribune doesn’t realize criminal cases aren’t the only things our court system can be used for. In their effort to sell more papers to avoid their quick spiral into bankruptcy the are trying to scare people into thinking the legal system is being illegally used to collect debts:

You committed no crime, but an officer is knocking on your door. More Minnesotans are surprised to find themselves being locked up over debts.

Apparently the paper is up in arms over the use of what is akin to debtors’ prisons. Honestly this isn’t happening nearly as much as the paper is trying to scare you into believing but alas they’re making a big deal out of this. Let’s step through the article and pull out some interesting quotes:

As a sheriff’s deputy dumped the contents of Joy Uhlmeyer’s purse into a sealed bag, she begged to know why she had just been arrested while driving home to Richfield after an Easter visit with her elderly mother.

No one had an answer. Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth.

So this woman was arrested and held overnight without being told what she was being arrested for? I believe that’s illegal. I’m pretty sure you must be informed of why you’re being arrested as you’re being arrested. If this case is true maybe she should sue the police department. Oh and I love this:

“They have no right to do this to me,” said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper. “Not for a stupid credit card.”

Congratulations you are a potential victim of police abuse. There is a support group down the hall. Cookies and juice are being served. I’m glad your eyes have been opened to what happens when law enforcement is held unaccountable. Or are the police acting illegally?

Remember these people broke no laws right? Not so much:

In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man “to indefinite incarceration” until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt.

I asked Bad News Bear about this and he delivered bad news as usual. Get this, if a court orders you to do something and you don’t they can issue an arrest warrant. HOLY SHIT! Did you know if you’re arrested for driving while intoxicated you can be ordered by the court to attend counseling? Did you also know if don’t show up for said counseling an arrest warrant can be issued against you? Yes if you are ordered to do something by the legal system you are legally obligated to do it. Also fire is hot.

On the second page we get this:

How often are debtors arrested across the country? No one can say. No national statistics are kept, and the practice is largely unnoticed outside legal circles.

This is the Star Tribune’s method of saying they found a couple of potential examples that there are a few isolated incidents of something happening but no proof can be found that the trend is increasing. In other words there are no facts to scare people with, not even crappy statistics made up to strike fear into your heart. But they need to sell papers which requires scary stories.

Those jailed for debts may be the least able to pay.

“It’s just one more blow for people who are already struggling,” said Beverly Yang, a Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation staff attorney who has represented three Illinois debtors arrested in the past two months. “They don’t like being in court. They don’t have cars. And if they had money to pay these collectors, they would.”

If that’s the case maybe they shouldn’t have obtained a credit card and used it to the limit. Maybe they should have decided to live within their means. I know a novel concept. Here is a lesson to learn, you don’t need a credit card. It’s that simple. If you can’t pay for something don’t get it. For instance I know you want that super awesome 50″ plasma T.V. but you don’t have the $8,000.00 to spend on it. Know what you can do? Not buy it! You don’t need that television to survive or even get by in life.

This process happens several times a week in Hennepin County. Those who fail to appear can be held in contempt and an arrest warrant is issued if a collector seeks one. Arrested debtors aren’t officially charged with a crime, but their cases are heard in the same courtroom as drug users.

No it’s not a crime, it’s a civil dispute. For instance if you are throwing shit onto your neighbor’s lawn they can take you to court over it. If you don’t show up for the court date a warrant can be issued to retrieve you and bring you to court. Crimes aren’t the only reason our court system is used. No, it’s also used to peacefully settle disputes between two members of society. In this case the court acts as a mediator and attempts to determine if one person has infringed on another person’s life in as neutral of a manner as possible.

“I was surprised that the police would waste time on my petty debts,” said Williams, 45, of Minneapolis, who had a $5,773 judgment from a credit card debt. “Don’t they have real criminals to catch?”

The police generally don’t get to determine what crimes they will work on and what crimes they will put on the back burner. If a judge issues an arrest warrant the police have to act on it regardless of what they think. It’s their job. You know what a job is right? It’s where you are paid money by somebody to perform tasks asked of you. If you don’t perform said tasks the person paying you can chose to no longer pay you and find somebody else to perform the task. It’s actually a very simple concept when you get right down to it.

“They may think it’s a mistake. They may think it’s a scam. They may not realize how important it is to respond,” said Mary Spector, a law professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

But the second you receive a court order you know it’s not a scam. That’s when you realize it’s important to respond. Also I’m just impressed some people have enough use of their brain to continue breathing:

Though she knew of the warrant and unpaid debt, “I wasn’t equating the warrant with going to jail, because there wasn’t criminal activity associated with it,” she said. “I just thought it was a civil thing.”

So you know there was a warrant out for your arrest but didn’t equate it to going to jail? You seriously fail at cognitive abilities. At this point I’m just pointing out stupidity:

“Thank God, the police had mercy and left me and my baby alone,” said Nielsen, who later paid the debt. “But to send someone to arrest me two weeks after a massive surgery that takes most women eight weeks to recover from was just unbelievable.”

Yes because I’m sure they obtained your medical records to see if you had a recent surgery so they knew whether it was OK to have you arrested or not. Oh wait they can’t because medical records are confidential. So they didn’t send the police after you because they knew you recently had surgery, they sent them after you because how the fuck are they supposed to know you just had major surgery? Sorry you aren’t so important that they keep constant updates on your well being.

He still has unpaid medical and credit card bills and owes about $40,000 on an old second mortgage. The sight of a squad car in his rearview mirror is all it takes to set off a fresh wave of anxiety.

“The question always crosses my mind: ‘Are the cops going to arrest me again?'” he said. “So long as I’ve got unpaid bills, the threat is there.”

Maybe you should pay off those bills then huh?

Seriously this article isn’t about abuse of power, it’s about civil disputes. Whether you like this system or not it’s established and if you live in this country you live under the system. This article is a perfect example of the main stream media blowing something out of proportion so they can make money. The actual moral of the story is this: if you owe somebody money and are ordered to appear in court you will be arrested if you don’t show up to court.

One thought on “Crimes vs. Civil Disputes”

  1. When you accept goods or services with the promise of payment, then don’t pay for good and services That’s stealing… You can’t fix stupid.

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