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My friend received a letter from the Las Vegas sheriff office saying that he had a warrant out for his arrest because of failure to pay a speeding ticket. However he had paid the fine several months ago and has the MasterCard transaction to prove it. I image he will resolve the issue today. However I am curious what would have happened if he had been pulled over while the letter was in route. He would most likely be arrested and detained for a clerical error. What are the legal ramifications in this scenario? Can the sheriffs office be held accountable?

Answer by Dr. Snark ®
There was a case that was heard in the Supreme Court just this week about this exact thing happening to somebody in New Jersey. He actually kept a copy of the paperwork clearing him of the warrant in his glove compartment, and the state trooper apologized as he took him into custody because he knew it was an error. You’d think that he would just be processed in and out once they realized the mistake, right? Wrong. He ended up spending over a WEEK in two county jails with the general population with murderers, rapists, etc. He’s in the process of suing the two counties responsible, but the Supreme Court case actually had to do with the fact that he was stripped searched multiple times over a traffic ticket THAT HE PAID.

In any event, your friend would be able to sue if this happened to him, but it’s not at all clear if he would be successful.

Answer by Sans Deity
He would have been arrested and then gotten out on bail. Once he got to court and his evidence really did prove that he shouldn’t have received the ticket, he can probably sue for court costs, lost wages, towing charges, etc.

Answer by WRG
If anyone would have been at fault it would be the court that issued the warrant not the police agency that pulled him over. And there is little chance there would be anything you could do about it.