Pay Now, or Pay More Later

Got an outstanding traffic ticket? The eyes of Texas law enforcement will be upon you. More than 300 agencies are taking part in the "Great Texas Warrant Round Up." Notices are now being mailed to let offenders know that they could be arrested beginning the first weekend in March. Pat Hernandez has more.

Lt. Henry PorrettoMore law enforcement agencies than ever are participating in the roundup. Lt. Henry Porretto with the Galveston Police Department is coordinating the effort. He says if you have an outstanding warrant, you need to take care
of it now.

"I don't know if some people may have let it slip their mind due to the hurricane, but we've made an attempt to contact them. This is our final attempt to give them a chance to come in and at the very least, try to make resolution to your problem. Failing to act is gonna cause the police department to act. We have no choice. It's the people that fail to take action, to be responsible that has forced us to act, and we're gonna do that."

Houston Municipal Courts director and chief clerk Sahira Abdool says over 31-thousand warrant cases were cleared in the last roundup.

Sahira Abdool "Payments in full are accepted online, by mail, and by contacting the Houston 311 help line. Acceptable forms of payment include cash and credit cards, check or money orders. In most cases, defendants may post a cash or surety bond in order to have their warrants removed and the cases reset."
 
Berta Mejia is the presiding judge at Houston Municipal Courts. She says the roundup targets those with outstanding warrants for infractions ranging from traffic, city ordinance, penal code or more serious charges.

"If a person feels that they're not guilty for the offense that they're charged and they have an open warrant which they've not been found guilty yet, then they should post a bond and schedule their cases for trial. People should not be afraid to come into court."

Capt Johnathan ZeraCapt. Johnathan Zera is in charge of special operations at the Houston Police Department.

"If you had a warrant issued for your arrest, it will be valid until it is taken care of through the courts. Our objective is to remind and encourage everyone to please come in and take care of your warrants. This will help avoid any embarrassment or inconvenience associated with being arrested in front of loved ones or co workers."

And it's not just the threat of arrest. Defendants risk paying more than they have to. Again, Municipal Court Presiding Judge Mejia:

"There are collection fees that are added. There are DPS fees that are added, and something that may start out to be 150-dollars, could turn out to be 290-dollars. And so, the public needs to understand that. It just grows and grows and so, that's why people need to come — the sooner, the better."

More information on the Great Texas Warrant Round Up can be found at www.texasonline.state.tx.us or at www.houstontx.gov/police/nr/2008/feb/nr020108-1.htm.
 

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...