Law enforcement officers all across the state are out seeking criminals on the lam. They are knocking on doors and arresting people who have failed to turn themselves in, sometimes for more than a year or two. But these offenders are not the dangerous sort you would expect to get this sort of attention, many of them are only wanted for failure to pay a traffic ticket.
It’s called the Great Texas Warrant Roundup and it occurs every year around this time. About 260 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating, in hopes of clearing up their warrants and collecting thousands, maybe even millions, of dollars in unpaid fines.
The Roundup lasts for about a week and ends this year on March 4. Last year, the city of Houston arrested 4,110 offenders on outstanding misdemeanor warrants, and collected $2.5 million in fines and costs.
While chasing down someone for an unpaid speeding ticket might seem like a waste of time, when you consider the overall recovery of the Roundup, it seems worthwhile.
“If everyone gets a ticket and says to hell with it, that defeats the purpose,” says the chief deputy for Harris County’s Constable Precinct One. “Our files are full of traffic warrants and hot-check warrants. The only people that gripe are the ones getting arrested.”
Some agencies do their best to get offenders to cooperate before showing up at their homes and placing them in handcuffs. One small town police chief covered the windows of his office with the photos of those wanted in the roundup. Another took out a whole section of the town’s newspaper, $600 to list the 600 names of those with outstanding warrants.
These warrants are usually for things like unpaid traffic tickets, where the offender didn’t mail in their fine and didn’t show up at court to resolve the issue. There might also be warrants for a “dog at large” or illegal parking, hardly public safety issues but revenue generators for the localities in which they are charged.
When you have a warrant out for your arrest, you might think that it will just go away or that the police won’t bother with arresting you. But you couldn’t be more wrong. Even the most minor offenses can result in you wearing handcuffs in the backseat of a cop car. Working with an attorney to determine the best way of handling the warrant will ensure it all gets resolved with as little drama as possible.
If you’re wanted for missing a court date or merely have some outstanding misdemeanor warrants, we may be able to help.