Texas Warrant Roundup

The Texas Warrant Roundup usually occurs between February and March every year, with more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state working together to notify individuals with active warrants in Texas.

If you try to find information about the Texas Warrant Roundup online, you’ll find that many websites are thick with fear tactics. “Got warrants? Now’s the time to pay up to avoid arrest,” they’ll say. People are given the option to pay with cash or credit card, but what if you don’t have the money? No alternatives are given, though they do exist. If you’ve been warned in the most recent Texas warrant roundup, don’t panic. Speaking with a defense attorney will ensure you know your legal rights.

What is a roundup warrant?

If you have active arrest warrants for unpaid traffic citations, parking tickets, city ordinance violations, Class C misdemeanors, and other fine-only infractions, you may receive mail encouraging you to pay your outstanding balance during a two-week “grace period.” It may sound like a great opportunity to avoid more serious sanctions, when in reality, there are unanticipated consequences to “doing the right thing.”

Simply paying a traffic fine will:

  • Put the citation on your driving record
  • Result in points on your driver’s license (two for a moving violation)
  • Trigger DMV surcharges (which could range from $100 to $250 per year, for three years)
  • Cause higher insurance premiums

If you’ve been contacted, it’s true you can’t just bury your head in the sand. At minimum, the state will suspend your driver’s license and tack on a $30 fee to renew your license again. They’ll make it so you can’t register your car or legally drive your vehicle to work.

Rest assured, they’re out in full force looking for you. If you’re arrested, you’ll have to post bond in the full amount of your unpaid fines to get out of jail. While you can hire a bondsman to help, a bondsman cannot represent you in court. That’s where the knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney Andrew Peveto comes in. Save time, money, and worry by working with Peveto Law.

Dallas County Warrant Roundup Information

The Dallas County Warrant Roundup begins with a week-long grace period, during which people with misdemeanor warrants can clear their names at 2014 Main Street in downtown Texas. In 2019, for instance, bringing three canned goods (like vegetables, tuna, or chicken) eliminated the $50 warrant fee for Class C misdemeanors and were donated to the North Texas Food Bank. Following the grace period, the roundup period for Dallas County warrants begins and arrests are made.

Collin County Warrant Roundup Information

There are nearly 39,000 active Collin County warrants, according to the county website. The Collin County warrant roundup has been a success in past years, with the county recouping $30,000 in fines in one short month. People with the most recent warrants are most likely to get arrested because officials presume you’re at the same residence or place of employment they have on file. If you haven’t received mail from the county, but fear you may be on the list, you can use the sheriff’s online warrant look-up.

Is a Warrant Roundup Constitutional?

A number of civil liberty groups have spoken openly about the unconstitutionality of the warrant roundup in Texas – the ACLU, Texas Appleseed, and the Texas Fair Defense Project, to name a few. The ACLU calls the warrant roundup “a shakedown of Texas’s working poor” and an “unreasonable scheme” that wreaks devastation on Texans who can’t pay. Stories of roundup abuse abound:

  • A woman who failed to signal a lane change should have paid $66, but the state added $103 in court costs and a host of fees – a “public defender fee,” a “payment plan fee,” and an “administrative fee.” Suddenly, the $66 ticket costs $500.
  • A 31-year-old mother of five children with disabilities was thrown in jail after two unpaid traffic tickets from nine years prior multiplied into fines worth thousands of dollars. She went before a judge without a court-appointed attorney, and was sentenced to 45 days in jail when she couldn’t pay $1,000 on the spot. Fortunately, a lawyer found her in jail, filed a motion, converted her fines to community service, and got her back to the family in four days. That’s the difference adequate representation makes.
  • According to the ACLU, judges have ordered people to “Give me what’s in your pockets.” When the answer is “nothing,” defendants are immediately sent to jail without a fair hearing or options for restitution.  
  • A 26-year-old single working mother, with a four-month-old boy and six-year-old girl in Austin, TX, was told by arresting officers she’d “probably be released within 24 hours.” Instead, the magistrate judge sentenced her to 21 days in jail for “failing to complete community service requirements.” She was denied the right to make calls – to her employer, her landlord, or her child care provider. Attorneys secured her release within a week, so she did not lose her job, her home, and her children.

Texas courts are notorious for showing no mercy when it comes to paying fines. Most people aren’t asked about their individual financial situations in court. Don’t wait until you’re arrested. Call us to talk about your rights and your options.

Know Your Rights in the Statewide Warrant Roundup

In many ways, the state takes advantage of people wondering, “What is a warrant roundup?” They prey on the fact that people may not fully understand their rights and alternatives. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Debtor’s prison is illegal. The one exception to the rule is those who do not pay child support. Otherwise, it is illegal to jail individuals based on the inability to pay fines or fees.
  • The law requires judges to ask whether a person has the ability to pay their debts. People on government assistance, disability, or unemployment should have the opportunity to explain their situations. Even those with minimum wage, low-paying jobs, or tight financial situations can be granted leniency in their court orders.
  • Jail credit is one option, but not the only alternative. If a person cannot pay, the option is granted to “lay out” the fines and fees through “jail credit,” but this should not be the only alternative offered to people who cannot afford to pay.
  • Judges have the power to reduce the amount owed. A judge can reduce the fines, fees, and court costs with a “partial waiver,” based on your income, resources, and family obligations.
  • Judges can allow payment plans. If you can’t pay the full amount owed at once, judges have the authority to order monthly payments in any amount that is affordable.
  • Community service can be a way to “pay down” fines. Individuals can get a credit of a minimum of $50 for every eight hours of court-ordered community service work. You can also opt to pay some of the debt in cash and discharge the remaining debt through a community service plan.
  • Minors should not be arrested. Individuals can be ordered to complete tutoring, rather than paying fines if their offenses occurred on school grounds. “Failure to Attend School” (truancy) should not lead to arrest.

Not all courts in Texas are gung-ho about the statewide warrant roundup. The Fort Worth Municipal Court has a Warrant Forgiveness Month, where a mobile courthouse travels to libraries and community centers to help people set up payment plans and community service waivers.

Don’t Be Another Victim of the Warrant Roundup Texas Shakedown

We’ve seen too many Texans not given a fair shake in court. If you’ve been contacted in the warrant roundup Texas 2019 shakedown, you need honest counsel to know what options are available for your situation. Before walking into their trap or risking your freedom, contact defense lawyer Andrew Peveto Law in Plano / DFW.

Additional resources:

  1. Texas Appleseed, https://www.texasappleseed.org/sites/default/files/PayorStay_Report_final_Feb2017.pdf
  2. Dallas News, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/dallas/2019/02/06/dallas-municipal-court-will-reduce-warrant-fees-exchange-canned-goods/