Paying a fine in pennies as a form of protest has become quite popular. Ever since the monster internet video staring activist Brett Sanders, some have even declared a penny revolution is on the horizon.
Some people have also come out against this form of protest. By bringing the topic into the mainstream media, it opened itself up to all sorts of scrutiny. Many called it pointless and called those that choose such a form of activism troublemakers.
Personally, I find it a great tool. Let me clarify what I mean by that. If you get a ticket and immediately gather pennies to go make a scene, you are a tool and have wasted your own time and mine. Now, the way this is a great tool is when it's combined with a full resistance to the fine.
To me, if you are doing this to draw awareness and cause change, then you want to plead not guilty, go to court, and try to beat the charge. Nothing is better then making the government spend all kinds of money on a court date and paying all those that must be there, only to have you win the case. Even if you lose, file an appeal. I feel it's our duty to resist to the very end.
If you have exhausted every one of your options, and are left with only two options: paying the money or gaining more loss (jail or bigger fines), then use the tool given to you. Pennies are a legal tender that allows those government entities to see exactly how much they are taking away from us. The person at the counter is not "just doing their job." That person gets paid to collect extortion money. They are a part of the same beast that pulled you over for a victim-less crime in the first place.
Let that person deal with it for their participation in harming others. You may even convince him/her to quit their job. I have zero sympathy for anyone that takes a check from the murder and extortion racket currently plaguing us all.
Let it even be known that I, myself, have paid fines in pennies. I even video recorded it for Youtube. Whatever anyone wants to say about paying fines in pennies, it's perfectly legal tender.
That is why I am saddened to report the first person to actually be arrested for it.
On October 27th, 2016 in the town of Bedford Indiana, a man named Niklas Siniard decided to pay his seat belt ticket in pennies. He had put them into a bucket with the words "extortion money" written on the sides.
In past videos, people have dumped the pennies all over the counter and floor. Not this time though. No mess. No vulgar language or anything like that. Yet, that did not stop the clerk from calling the judge out in a hurry.
The judge took one look at the pennies and said "We are not taking that!" He then tells the man to take his pennies to the bank and exchange them for bigger bills. Mr. Siniard argues that it is legal tender and that they must accept it.
After just a minute of that, Mr. Siniard had enough and left the bucket on the counter while turning to leave. He tells the judge that the money is there and the debt is paid. At that point, the judge orders the bailiff to take the man into custody for contempt of court.
First of all, the judge did not have his robes on. Second of all, even with his robes on, his authority does not extend outside of the courtroom. Third, and most bizarre of all, the man was not even there for court! He was there strictly to pay off a fine. This judge over hears something he did not like and totally blows away his authority to kidnap the man.
The story continues with the man being handcuffed and taken into the judge's chambers. The judge then orders (in the courtroom where he has authority to make up rules) that the court will not accept the pennies. The man is to either leave with the pennies or be taken to jail for contempt.
Mr. Siniard accepts his defeat and leaves. He promptly decides to upload the footage of what happened though. He posted the video and story on his Facebook. The story went viral by the next morning.
Later that day, he was also served with court papers for "Contempt of Court". His court papers state that he is being charged for "Filming and posting footage from inside the courtroom".
The funny thing is, it was the judge himself that ordered the man be forced into his courtroom. This entire thing smells really off to me. This judge went way too far and is attempting to bully this man into a legal situation where he will be forced to admit guilt so the judge will look justified.
I truly hope this man finds a good lawyer. After speaking with him, he has informed me that the ACLU is looking into the case. He is also speaking with a number of law firms about what his options are.
There is one thing that is 100% certain: Niklas Siniard will never receive a fair trial in that judge's courtroom.
If you are a lawyer and think you can help please feel free to contact us via the contact tab HERE.
If you wish to reach out to the judge in this case, you can do so at the following:
William G. Sleva Judge, Superior Court, No. 2
918 16th St Ste 400
Bedford, IN 47421-3880
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