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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I just got a letter in the mail from the state of TN says I

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I just got a letter in the mail from the state of TN says I owe $2019 for court cost, jail, and fees. We thought all this was paid well over 22 years ago. this is the first we have heard of this in 22 years. I was 18 at the time and my mom said everything was taken care of when I was released from jail and sent to Job corps to complete my school and education to make restitution. Now out of the blue I get this letter and they are saying they will suspend my license and garnish my wades. I have called and asked for proof of what I owe and I have not got anything. 22+ years we can't go that far back with the bank to see what was paid and what they say we still owe. What can I do I'm a Army wife and we cant afford this my husband is stations in South Korea at the moment and this is not going to sit well with him. Help please what can I do how can they come after me 22 years after the fact when all this time we thought everything was paid!?!?!?!?!?!
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, because this would be considered part of your sentence, it is valid until it is paid. However after 22 years if they have no records of this charge due, you must go before the court with a motion to discharge the amount due based on there being no proof or evidence of you owing them the money.

I am afraid that the only way to deal with this now is going to court in TN and getting the judge to dismiss it if they cannot provide proof of the debt. You can consider getting an attorney in TN to appear in court for you on the motion to get the amount dismissed.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

"because this would be considered part of your sentence" how does that pertain to the jail fees? I didn't even know they could or did charge me for being in jail back in the 80's. How did I get released from jail If I still owed them money for the jail? I was picked up at the jail. There is no way we can afford an attorney on my hubby's military pay. How can they come after my license that's in another state? or Garnish anything when they have never tried to get this money from us before? my parents lived at that same address for 16 of the last 22(address on all court docs) years and they never got anything. I am just an army wife I have been unemployed for the last 6 years. Can I do anything to stop them from going after my husbands accounts and pay? This was way before he and I even met. This is just mind blowing after 20+ years and they just pop up say you owe us pay or we will take it for the most part with nothing but a postcard?!?!?!?

Thank you for your response.

Without looking at your records there is no way for me to tell you why they are doing this to you now, all I can say is they can do so and can charge for the fees for time in jail as well as interest and if it is not paid they can seek administrative sanctions as they are doing. I wish I could read or access your files and give you a better indication of what alternatives you have or a better explanation, but as I said I cannot see those files and those are needed for anyone to tell you any more than you must get a local attorney and you cannot avoid doing so or face the license suspension or pay the fine they say you owe without any proof to avoid it. These are the three choices you have, none of them easy ones, but hiring the local attorney is the best one for certain.
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