Man Claims He Didn’t Receive Notice to Appear in Court
BROWNSVILLE – A Brownsville man owes $1,500 for failing to appear in court but he’s already spent 15 days in jail for the crime he was accused of.
Hiram Hilton thought the courts would come find him and stay on top of his case to remind him of his court dates. However, Cameron County clerk Sylvia Garza-Perez said each person has to stay on top of their own legal issues.
A court judgment is ordering Hilton to pay his $1,500 bond. It’s for a personal recognizance bond revoked when Hilton failed to show up to court on the designated date to discuss a trespassing charge.
The district attorney’s office wants its money because he was a no-show. Hilton claims he never got a notice telling him when to appear in court.
“I understand I missed a court date but I never got a notice. But I wasn’t hiding. I went and I spoke to them. I went to the courthouse. I said if you have to arrest me, here I am, but I don’t think I should be held responsible. I never got a notice and I never got that second notice for the bond forfeiture hearing either,” Hilton said.
Garza-Perez said those notices were sent to the address on file for Hilton. Hilton confirmed that address for CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
He eventually did make it to court to settle the criminal case against him. He served 15 days in jail and thought it was over.
Garza- Perez said unfortunately it’s not.
Because Hilton broke his original agreement with the courts to show for his hearing as scheduled, he automatically forfeited his PR bond and he is still responsible for it.
“Make sure you are in contact with the office that you are dealing with. Sometimes things change according to legislature, and sometimes there’s things we can help you with and things we can’t help you with. The best thing is make a call and ask questions,” she said.
Garza-Perez adds people shouldn’t wait for their legal issues to catchup to them. Once a judge signs off on order, there’s nothing the county clerk’s office can do except send the notices.
“Whatever charges or fines that are given, they are not fines that we give. That’s the judge’s discretion,” Garza-Perez said.
Court records indicate that Hilton has one outstanding case.
At this point Hilton will have to talk directly with the judge to make his case about not receiving the notice to appear in court on the initial date.
Garza-Perez said it’s up to citizens to make sure they give a valid and correct address. She added if a notice doesn’t come in the mail, it doesn’t mean a case was dismissed.
Hilton said he’s planning to make an appointment with the judge.
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