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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 14454
Experience:  13 years experience in criminal law, BA in criminal justice
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I was informed that a local court in Puerto Rica issued a warrant

Customer Question

I was informed that a local court in Puerto Rica issued a warrant for my arrest. I am a Ga resident and US citizen. I have never been to Puerto Rica and have no business there. The action was filed against me by a puerto Rica resident who basically has a civil dispute with me for money he paid to me in Ga I was not questioned by the Puerto Rica authorities or served any kind of notice.

Can I be arrested in the US? What if I travel outside the US to another country other than Puerto Rica?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Legal-Guru replied 1 year ago.
Are you certain that the Puerto Rico court issued a warrant for you? How did you become aware of this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The person in puerto rica who I am in contract dispute told me by email that he filed a complaint with puerto rica equivalent of FBI , and I think he said the Superior Court in puerto Rica is the local court that issued the arrest warrant. No, I have no personal knowledge other than his email to me.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Other.
I did not receive an answer
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello there.

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I note that you relisted this question and I am happy to assist. the circumstances that you describe above, it sounds to me like this person in Puerto Rico is most likely bluffing you in an effort to use scare tactics to get you to do what he wants you to do. You see, in order for a court to accept a criminal or a civil case where you are the defendant, that court must have jurisdiction over your person -- which means that you must either live or work in Puerto Rico (you must have enough contacts with the state or territory for their courts to be able to claim that they have the right to hear civil or criminal matters concerning you) OR you were visiting PR and the plaintiff was able to have a process server serve you with paperwork while you were physically present in Puerto Rico. Also, if this dispute involves the payment of money, it would be handled using a civil lawsuit in a civil court in PR and it would not generally end up in criminal court (unless he claims that you stole the money and if that is the case then he needs to get the police involved in the matter which you state that there is no indication of any police involvement at this point, correct?). So, only a criminal court can issue an arrest warrant and that is only after the police are involved and they speak with all parties involved and then the police decide whether or not to bring any further actions against you as a criminal defendant -- and if the police decide to bring a criminal action you would be notified by the criminal court of a hearing date in that court and then if you failed to appear you would be notified by the criminal court that there is a warrant out for your arrest in PR). It sounds like NONE of this has happened in this case you are describing -- either for it to be a civil lawsuit matter or for it to be a criminal police matter. Unless you receive official paperwork from the district court in Puerto Rico (either criminal or civil), then this person is most definitely bluffing to you on this and is trying to scare you into paying him and my suggestion is to simply ignore him. If you suddenly get paperwork from a criminal or civil court in Puerto Rico, then that is the time that you should telephone the authorities at the court in PR to determine how this matter was filed and to let the court know that you do not live or work in PR and you have never been there and that they do not have jurisdiction over you. In the event that by some slim chance or stretch of the imagination there actually is a warrant for you in PR, it will not hinder any of your travels to different states and you will not be arrested anywhere but in PR if you travel outside of GA (the authorities will arrest on out of state warrants but those cases are for murder, rape, serious assault, etc -- they do not want to pay to arrest and extradite a person to PR for a small collections matter as you are describing). And because PR is a territory of the US, all of their laws regarding warrants and extradition and having jurisdiction over a person only if they live or work in PR are the same laws as in the rest of the US.

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Just FYI, Many, Many collection agencies try to use these exact same tactics to collect money from people in different states -- they will telephone you and claim to have already filed a court case against you or that they will be filing a criminal case against you the next morning if you do not send them some of the money that you owe -- and these are nothing more than scare tactics where they are trying to get around the state and federal collections laws to try to force you to pay something that you are not legally required to pay in any state or in any federal court in the US. Using these methods is actually illegal under the Federal Trade Commission credit and collections laws and if an organized credit card company or a licensed collection agency were doing the same thing to you , then you could file a complaint against them with the US Federal Trade Commission (the FTC is a federal consumer protection agency and they cover PR also because it is a US federal territory). However, if this is an individual that you did business with and it is not an organized company or collection agency then the FTC rules do not apply to him so they would not accept a complaint about what is happening here. Instead, you need to protect yourself here and do not respond to his threats unless or until you receive official documentation from a court in Puerto Rico -- which I seriously doubt will happen in this case.

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I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have further questions on this matter.

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Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 14454
Experience: 13 years experience in criminal law, BA in criminal justice
Legalease and 3 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It's the Superior District court for San Juan-- seems to be some local court. Does that court have jurisdiction over me assuming I have never been to Puerto Rica, will never go, and the business and contract in dispute occurred in Ga?

Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello again --

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Have you received any paperwork from that court? Or is this still email information from the man asking you for money?

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-MARY

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