The amount of time citizens have left to take care of outstanding fees and fines in Smith County is running out. This weekend, as part of the state-wide warrant roundup, law enforcement officers will begin arresting people who haven't paid up.
The two-week grace period that Smith County has granted people who owe money to the court ends on Friday. After that, anyone who hasn't paid what they owe to the court or hasn't set up a payment plan to do so could find themselves spending the weekend --or longer-- behind bars.
"We are going to come and arrest you. You will be arrested," says Smith County Precinct 4 Commissioner JoAnn Hampton.
Hampton says the county is owed money for fines and fees back to 2007. This year, they aim to collect it.
"It's just like anything else. It's a bill that has to be collected and the county is obligated to collect that money," Hampton says.
Since the county began passing out blue notices to people who owe money to the court, they've collected more than $11,000 in unpaid fees and fines. However, Smith County is still owed millions of dollars by hundreds of people who will soon come home to bright orange notices, letting them know that the county is actively seeking their arrest.
"Because we have changed up how the deputies patrol, we have more deputies on the streets. It's more likely now, even without this roundup, that you could be picked up for a misdemeanor, which is what a court cost or fine would be. Honestly, if you could take care of that now it would be a lot less embarrassing and wiser to do," says Smith County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer John Moore.
Not just Smith County, but roughly 300 agencies across the state will be looking for the people who haven't paid up, and they aren't just stopping by homes. Officers will be going to workplaces and hunting people down at any known hang-outs, too.
Even if someone manages to avoid arrest during the warrant roundup, their fees and fines aren't going away. That information will be turned over to DPS, and people who haven't paid their fees and fines will be faced with them again when it's time to renew their driver's license.
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
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