According to this article from the Houston Chronicle, there are currently about 1.7 million warrants outstanding in the metro area. Luckily, the majority of these warrants are for simple Class C misdemeanor cases, not dangerous offenders.
However, this is an astronomical number of unserved warrants taking up space. So, how did this get to be such a problem?
Well, when you are charged with a Class C misdemeanor, you must appear for court. Missing your court date results in a warrant being taken out on your original charge (or charges) plus typically an additional Failure To Appear warrant. It is easy to see how most of the people with a warrant out, have more than one in their name.
These outstanding warrants are valued at approximately $300 million that would go to the city when collected. Getting a warrant served and actually collecting on fees are two completely different things, however.
Typically, a Class C misdemeanor is only punishable by a fine. This could be why so many people disregard their court date, thinking it won’t be a serious matter.
However, a failure to appear charge will increase that Class C misdemeanor fine by up to an additional $500. If your original charge was a more serious classification, you could be looking at additional jail time for failing to appear.
The Chronicle explains that when police do a warrant sweep or attempt to catch up on the backlog of active warrants, they start with the most serious offenders first. For this reason, the smaller Class C warrants are typically the last ones served and often not served until the offender is pulled over or has another contact with the police.
And the likelihood of getting caught and pulled over will only increase as more and more license plate scanners are deployed by Texas State Troopers.
When up against any criminal charges, your first reaction may be to ignore it in hopes it will go away. However ignoring the charges will only exacerbate your long term consequences. Dealing with the warrant is typically the best answer.
If you know you have active warrants out for your arrest now and aren’t sure how to go about handling them, call me today. Together we can discuss your options.