Q: I went to the initial hearing at the magistrate I was pulled over for a headlight being out and had paraphernalia taken out of the car. No tests were done, so no DUI was issued. I went to the initial hearing but was told by my mother not use her address anymore. The judge got angry when I told him I was technically homeless and without an address to give him. He gave me another court date that I failed to show up at because my situation was still the same. I just want to pay a fine and be done with it all. Well, it went downtown. About a year later, I was picked up and taken to the county jail for 3 weeks. Released on ROR and they kept my prescription glasses for long distance seeing. I had an apartment I was residing at when I was arrested. I lost the place shortly after being released. I had to move my stuff and misplaced my papers with the court date. It has been 6 months roughly since I was arrested. Had they issued the fine at the initial hearing, everything would have been paid off by now. What are my options? I tried contacting a pro bono attorney and they said they cannot help until the warrant is resolved. This could be resolved without my appearance if I had a paid lawyer. (Pittsburgh, PA) A: I am not so sure it could be resolved if you had a paid lawyer. Even if you did, you would be detained at least for some period of time until the motions judge could set your bond. With a record of not appearing and having no steady address, a private attorney may not be able to get you another ROR bond. It sounds like a bench warrant was issued for not showing at your Formal Arraignment and you were subsequently jailed but given a ROR bond (released on recognizance) and then no showed again. I do not believe the Allegheny County Public Defender handles warrants. If you don’t have funds for a private attorney to turn yourself in at motions court, my thought is that you need to turn yourself in to the County Bail Agency (Pretrial Services). They will hold you in jail until they can get you before a judge to arraign you. If you received ROR once, you may not get it again. Tell the judge your circumstance and try to get an address where you receive mail before you do this.
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