2016 Warrant Roundup – Know Your Rights
Know Your Rights Before the 2016 Warrant Roundup: Ask for Alternatives to Jail AUSTIN, Texas — During the 2016 Great Texas Warrant Roundup, low-income Texans may be unlawfully committed to jail for overdue fines. In order to decrease that risk, a coalition of organizations — Texas Appleseed, Texas Fair Defense Project, University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights Clinic and ACLU of Texas — want individuals who may be arrested during the Roundup to have the following information about their legal rights and the options available to them. Background on Warrant Roundup Law enforcement agencies and courts from more than 300 cities and counties across Texas are participating in the 2016 Great Texas Warrant Roundup beginning Saturday, March 5, 2016, with a handful announcing earlier start dates. The goal of the Roundup is to collect payment of overdue fines from the hundreds of thousands of Texans who have warrants for unpaid traffic tickets and fines in Class C misdemeanor cases in justice and municipal courts. Before the Roundup, some cities and counties have a one- or two-week period in late February for settling overdue tickets, called an “amnesty” period. Some courts will eliminate fees if a person pays the underlying fines or will settle the entire debt if a person pays a portion of what is owed. Individuals can call the court that imposed the fine to ask about their amnesty period. Know Your Rights People with outstanding court debts should be aware of their options and rights under state law if they cannot afford to pay the amount owed. It is not legal for a judge to jail an individual simply because he or she cannot pay fines or fees. The law requires a judge to ask whether a person has the ability to pay their debt before committing that person to jail. If a person cannot pay, he or she cannot be required to “lay out” the fines or fees in jail .