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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27118
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I received a letter today from the Payne County, Oklahoma DAs

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I received a letter today from the Payne County, Oklahoma DA's office dated 05/19/13, marked "ARREST WARRANT PENDING". It is a notice of bad checks claiming that I have 2 unpaid checks.
The 1st, $5.00 dated 01/02/10 The 2nd, $30.00 dated 12/30/09.
The letter quotes Oklahoma Statutes Title 21 Section 1541.1 and 1541.2 letting me decifer that this is a misdemeanor. Further research tells me that a misdemeanor has a 3 year statute of limitations.
When I called the DA's office I was told that the statute is 5 years and that if I didn't pay $433 (wtf is a diversion fee anyway?) they would issue an arrest warrant on 06/02/13.
1. Are my assumptions of misdemeanor and the statute on misdemeanors correct?
2. Is there something that I'm missing here that makes this "ARREST WARRANT PENDING" possible?
3. If so/not, how can they legally threaten me with arrest? Is this not extortion?
4. What is my next move?
Hi Jacustomer,

You are correct about the worth of the case. Your aggregate was for under $50, and that would mean you can only be charged with a misdemeanor. The statute of limitations for the misdemeanor is three years in Oklahoma. However, the statute ceases to run under certain circumstances. So, assuming you were not an Oklahoma resident or you were but you were absent from the state, the Statute of limitations would get an extension. I don't know if that applies at all, but you do and that may be what you're missing.

They can legally threaten you with an arrest, because they believe they have an argument that will overcome your statute of limitations objection. If you don't believe they can do it, you can call their bluff, let the warrant issue (or not) and hire a lawyer and make your statute of limitations argument. If you're right, the case will be dismissed and you can look into your civil remedies for false arrest.

The "diversion fee" is a fine that keeps the case out of court and the charges off of your record. The charges would never be filed but the matter would be "diverted" to allow you to take care of it through the DA. If you let the case get filed with the court, on the other hand, the arrest and ultimate conclusion of the case will appear on your RAP sheet.

As for your next move, a local lawyer may be able to straighten this out for you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for your quick response. I have been in the state most of my life, at the same address for the last 6 years.

While I am sure a local attorney could help, they would also charge me money to resolve an issue that it seems shouldn't exist. To be blunt, I don't have it like that right now. Should I write a letter to the DA's office asking them these questions?

Hi Kristi,

Maybe the DA read wrong and mistook the $5 for a $50. I would call them again, since time is of the essence and you would rather a warrant not issue. Tell them that you have done some research and that if this is indeed something they can still file you will meet your obligations but you need first to know why this would not be time-barred by the statute of limitations, since 1541.1, the only statute that would apply to a $35 debt, would be a misdemeanor charge.

I normally advise suspects and defendants not to talk to the authorities because anything you say can be used against you. That's the main reason for having a lawyer do the negotiating. But you can't hurt yourself too badly by asking in this matter, because I suspect if you have to choose between paying the state $435 or paying a lawyer to handle and fight your case, you're likely going to take the diversion agreement and keep this off of your record. Most people would. They'd regret it because they will always suspect (and they may be right) that this is just the county's way of getting some extra revenue at their expense), but they'd do it all the same.

Zoey_ JD and 5 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank You very much for your frank answer (insert atty joke here)

Your answer is very much appreciated.

Hi Kristi,

Happy to have offered you some assistance. I wish you a happy holiday weekend.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi again.

I think I found the missing piece.

Okla Title 22 V.1 Sec. 152 F

..... Prosecution for the crime of false or bogus check, Section 1541.1, 1541.2, 1541.3 or 1541.4 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, shall be commenced within five (5) years after the commission of such offense.

As I read it this gives them a 5 yr SOL even on $35... which leaves me a different kind of SOL, it seems.

Thanks again for your input



Hi Kristi,

Yup. You found it, all right, and unfortunately it's just what the DA said it was. You've construed it correctly here. Yes, any bounced check would have a 5 year SOL as I read it too.

Sorry! I was hoping it would be a mistake. I appreciate your telling me, so I will know that for future reference if ever necessary.

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