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In 2001 after having lived in Georgia, US for a year we were heading back to the UK, I'm a UK resident. I had a fine written (noisy house party) but we were leaving the country the next day so it never got paid.

In 2006/7 I flew into Newark for a holiday and got held when I handed over my passport. As the fine hadn't been paid, a court summons was issued, as I never turned up at court a warrant for my arrest was put out, and that was flagged up when I handed over my passport.

We called the police station from NY but they wouldn't take a credit card over phone, only a cheque in US dollars which at the time we couldn't do. So we left the US and flew straight back to UK, with the warrant still live.

I'd now like to return to US or have the option to. Will the original fine have had interest added and what's my best course of action to take to sort this out? The embassy, the police? I really don't know where to start or if I can even sort it out now, or am I too late. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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    Get advice from a lawyer in the US. – user90371 Apr 4 at 21:47
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    See if the county or city now has an online portal to pay for fines. Because yours is old, it might not be possible, but you might be able to check its status or amount. – mkennedy Apr 4 at 23:48
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    Not a "lawyer in the US," but instead a "lawyer in Georgia, preferably near the court where the case is pending." The lawyer knowing the locals will be a benefit. – David Apr 5 at 2:22
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    Actually, since the problem here is not one of travel so much as resolving a legal issue it's time to close this as off-topic. – user90371 Apr 5 at 21:55
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about resolving a legal issue. The only connection to travel is that the legal issue is preventing travel. – David Richerby Apr 5 at 22:53
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As the comments say, the only practical way* to get it resolved will require you to hire a lawyer who is licensed in Georgia. When selecting a lawyer, try to find someone who knows both about arrest warrants and about US immigration rules. Be forewarned that the lawyers with the best advertising are not necessarily the best lawyers; see advice on how to find a US lawyer. The lawyer is going to have to do something like this:

  • Find out the legal details of your case.
  • Submit one or more court filing(s) and possibly appear in court on your behalf. Getting it resolved will probably involve paying the original fine plus interest, as well as submitting some filing to have the arrest warrant rescinded. This part might involve long delays if the court has a backlog of cases.
  • Advise you about future US visits. For example, you will probably be advised to apply for a US visa and not to use the visa waiver program/ESTA.

The total cost will depend greatly on the complexity of the court process, but I imagine it might be a few thousand dollars.

*Legally, you could also submit the necessary court filings yourself, but this isn't practical because you won't know what to submit, and you're not even in Georgia.

EDIT: Re-reading your question, it's possible that all the lawyer will need to do is send a US check to the police station and confirm that they rescind the arrest warrant. In any event, you'll get a much clearer picture once you have an initial consultation with a few different prospective lawyers.

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