Comments about ‘Police cite Vernal man accused of paying bill with 2,500 pennies’

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Published: Friday, June 3 2011 8:02 p.m. MDT

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Mike1970
HOUSTON, TX

Pennies, like all US coinage is not simply legal tender. It is "limited legal tender". As such, it must be accepted as payment of obligations to the following limits:
Quarters: $10
Dimes: $5
Nickels: $2
Pennies: 35 cents.

The clerk was required to accept 35 cents in pennies and revise the debt to be $24.65.

tyde
SACRAMENTO, CA

I think he got the disorderly conduct charge not for paying with pennies, but by being rude and dumping them all over the counter. He was probably mouthing off being rude thinking he was making some kind of statement. If he had paid in rolls on pennies or even put a big bag of them on the counter, he wouldn't have been cited. No doubt he upended it scattering them all over the place, intentionally being disruptive. I mean I get it, he is taking a stand and sticking it to them by wanted to pay in pennies. The issue is not the value or the coin itself, it's how he went about it. I think this guy deserves the fine and he should check his attitude before he unloads on some poor unsuspecting minimum wage medical clinic schlub.

Noodlekaboodle
Salt Lake City, UT

@Tyde, When did it become illegal to be rude?

CBP
SANTA BARBARA, CA

People people coins are legal tender, here is the law:
TITLE 31, SUBTITLE IV, CHAPTER 51, SUBCHAPTER I, § 5103

§ 5103. Legal tender

United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.

GiuseppeG
Murray, Utah

Below is the disorderly conduct code. Wonder what part they charged this dude on?

76-9-102. Disorderly conduct.
(1) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if:
(a) he refuses to comply with the lawful order of the police to move from a public place, or knowingly creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition, by any act which serves no legitimate purpose; or
(b) intending to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:
(i) engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior;
(ii) makes unreasonable noises in a public place;
(iii) makes unreasonable noises in a private place which can be heard in a public place; or
(iv) obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
(2) "Public place," for the purpose of this section, means any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes but is not limited to streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops.
(3) Disorderly conduct is a class C misdemeanor if the offense continues after a request by a person to desist. Otherwise it is an infraction.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I feel a Supreme Court case coming on. Last I heard, pennies were legal tender.

ADN
Weiser, ID

Whatever happened to customer service. I haven't seen madness like this since living in a X-communist country in Eastern Europe.

The Virginian
LEESBURG, VA

The law is clear that the coins are legal tender:
31 USC Sec. 5103
"Legal tender
United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes
and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks)
are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.
Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."

If he made the offer to tender payment, and was refused, the doctor's office has only 2 paths to pursue under law: 1) write off the debt, or 2) accept the payment. Of course, they could always negotiate with him to see whether they could work out another arrangement. The one path NOT open to them is to take any action in a court seeking to compel the payment, since tender was made.

If the local police arrested him solely for attempting to pay his bill, there isn't much of a case -- although the police officer's sworn statement will be legally-acceptable proof that tender was made.

I wonder what happened AFTER he made the tender of payment. I think THAT had to be what caused the police to arrest him.

driveaholic
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Im with Kimd @ 7:55 Would be nice to get a penny drive for the clinic..Penny in a card folks?

JKDRAWDE
DUNCANVILLE, TX

For all of you claiming 'they must accpet' since it's 'legal tender,' I hope your boss pays you in legal tender pennies, every bit of change you get from a store is given to you in legal tender pennies, and that your IRS refunds come to you in legal tender pennies. Ya'll are being a bit dense here.

hmmm interesting
Salt Lake City, UT

GiuseppeG: The policeman quoted in the article very carefully specified, he caused "alarm" and his behavior served "no legitimate purpose."

Crazy.

Be sure you don't hang out at the park doing nothing legitimate such as cloud watching or smelling the roses.

PowerPC
GREENVILLE, NC

The problem was dumping all of the pennies on the counter and floor. The man should have just politely placed the bag of pennies on the counter and just left. 2500 pennies is a lot and I am sure there was a huge mess. As much as I can relate to the gentleman's outrage he was wrong to do it in the manner he did. Disorderly conduct is probably a suitable charge.

Northern
Logan, UT

The cops are way off base even responding to a call on a situation like this, let alone writing a citation. Don't they have any "real" crimes they could be working on instead of wasting time on this?

Please start FIRING police who more and more abuse the power WE THE PEOPLE have GIVEN them.

The Police and policing are out of control.

Morgan Duel
Taylorsville, UT

What happened to "Common Sense?"

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

As has been previously stated, the portion of the law that applies to the Legal Tender issue is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103 (also cited previously in this comment thread).

In practice, it may not be quite that absolute, though. From the U.S. Department of the Treasury website:

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

Flame53
Mesa, AZ

Do you really think this is about the pennies? After hearing about disgruntled employees, mad ex-husbands, disaffected students, (etc. etc.) taking a gun into a school or place of business, I don't blame them for calling the police if they felt threatened or intimidated. Easy for armchair (or computer keyboard) quarterbacks to make fun. We weren't there.

Ok
Salt Lake City, Utah

The man should request a jury trial. I don't think he would be convicted. I know if I were a member of the jury that I could not convict him. It would take all my power to just stop laughing at the cop as he gave his testimony.

No One Of Consequence
West Jordan, UT

"The incident upset clinic staff, said Campbell, adding that West's behavior served "no legitimate purpose."

Utah Code 76-9-102. Disorderly conduct.
(1) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if:
(a) he refuses to comply with the lawful order of the police to move from a public place, or knowingly creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition, by any act which serves no legitimate purpose; or
(b) intending to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:
(i) engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior;

This is related to the common law tort of Assault:
"In common law, assault is the tort of acting intentionally and voluntarily causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact." (Wikipedia)

The Disorderly Conduct citation is a nod to the verbal assault, coupled with an aggressive act when he tossed a large quantity of metal disks at the office staff, which caused apprehension among the staff.

The cops may not be so far off-base here, though they could easily have suggested that the man apologize and let it go at that.

mosbyjim
Vernal, UT

I would have payed it with Trident Layers Gum.

Big Rock
Salt Lake City, UT

If he gets fined, I'll be the first to step up and save as many pennies as I can for him. 14000 is that many.

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