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A routine traffic ticket triggered the beginning of an unbelievable nightmare for one undocumented immigrant, according to a recent lawsuit.

In 2013, police arrested Fernando Figueroa-Barajas for immigration violations after he was pulled over for a traffic ticket. He alleges that he was mistreated during his interrogation. According to court documents, ICE agents refused to let him speak to a lawyer, and beat him when he refused to sign a deportation agreement. Mr. Figueroa-Barajas claimed that he was placed on suicide watch when he was transferred to a local jail, and placed in solitary confinement for five months.

The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court.

These instances are rare in the Golden State since the Trust Act took effect in 2013. Under this law, California counties are not supposed to turn arrested persons over to ICE unless they are accused of a serious crime. However, a traffic ticket in Kern County is often just the beginning of your problems.

If you have an unpaid traffic ticket or other outstanding traffic warrant, such as a failure to appear, the police may not come to you. Instead, the police may wait for you to come to them. If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, the officer will know almost instantly whether or not you have outstanding fines or warrants. If so, you may be taken directly to jail to serve your punishment.

Speak with an attorney practicing regularly in Lamont and Bakersfield about your unpaid tickets. A lawyer may be able to remove the warrant and set you up on a payment plan, so you can avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of being hauled off to jail because you ran a stop sign, or allegedly committed some other small infraction.

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