Jacksonville offers warrant amnesty program

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

Released by Kelly Young with the City of Jacksonville:

JACKSONVILLE, TX - The City of Jacksonville hopes to clear up much of its backlog of outstanding misdemeanor warrants with a warrant amnesty and enforcement program which will allow minor offenders to clean their slates while avoiding failure to appear charges and jail time.

According to the Jacksonville Municipal Court, there are currently 1,706 active, un-served warrants on the city's books worth an estimated $575,000. Some of these offenses go back as far as the year 2000.

"When someone gets a ticket and they don't pay it or show up in court, we issue a warrant and file a new charge for failure to appear," said Municipal Judge Pete Menefee. "From now until November 1, if people with active warrants will come in and pay the original charge in-full, then we will drop the charges and the fees on the failure to appear."

Menefee said the amnesty could result in a fair amount of savings for many of Jacksonville's citizens with active warrants.

"In all probability, if a person only had one or two minor offenses then the failure to appear charge more than doubles the amount they owe - so there are substantial savings for those who take advantage of this program," he said.

But once the deadline has passed, the Jacksonville Police Department will be conducting a warrant sweep for people who chose not to use the amnesty period to resolve their warrants.

Police Chief Reece Daniel said that starting Nov. 1, his men will be aggressively pursuing all active warrants.

"Amnesty programs have been done here in the past, but never with an enforcement program as intensive and prolonged as what we have planned this time," Daniel said. "I am going to detail special people who will do nothing other than going out, serving these warrants and taking these people to jail. We are going to arrest them anywhere we can find them - at work, at home or in their vehicles - we'll even travel to the surrounding communities to get them if that is where they work."

If a warranted individual is stopped while driving, they will also have to deal with the added expense of having their vehicle towed from the scene while they go off to jail.

Outstanding warrants can be paid at the either the municipal court or the police department. Payment must be made in the form of a money order, cashier's check or cash.

"I certainly hope this will be a successful program and that people will take advantage of this. In these hard economic times, it will save people a lot of money if they can take care of their warrants without having to pay the failure to appear charges," Daniel said. "It is certainly in their best interest to go ahead and get this cleared up now, because once the deadline passes we are going to be out looking to clear as many of these warrants off the books as possible."

Chief Daniel is available for interview regarding this topic, and can be reached at 903-589-5357.