Failure to appear fines increased for district court

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - If you do the crime, be prepared to pay a high fine if you don't show up to court.

Failing to appear in Craighead County District Court is now going to cost a lot more.

Previously, defendants had to pay a $330 fine for missing a court date, but it will now cost $750.

Judge Tommy Fowler said this change is to send a clear message: don't miss your court dates.

"When Judge Boling and I first came on in January our message to the community was, 'Come to court,' and people did, they showed up," Fowler said. "I guess the honeymoon phase may be over because they've stopped coming."

Fowler said they first tried to change the way the court issued dates.

Instead of just being told when to appear, defendants signed and were given a scheduling order that had their next court date listed.

"So there's no more, 'Well, I forgot,' or 'I confused my court date,'" Fowler said.

Because that still has not worked, the judges decided to increase the fine.

Fowler wants people to understand that not showing up to court causes several problems.

"If it's for a trial docket then there are officers who are subpoenaed who are here, most likely in an overtime period being paid by their agency, there are civilian witnesses a lot of times who are here who had to take off work and who don't want to be here, but are under court subpoena to be here, there then is a warrant that has to be issued so more officers have to go out, serve people," Fowler said. "That ripple carries on and on and on. So one person just decided not to come to court today affects a lot of other people."

There is also no longer a distinction for failing to appear for a traffic offense or any other misdemeanor.

It is the same $750 fine for everything.

Fowler also said they will try to work with people who will call ahead of time or try to work something out with the judge if they are going to be late or are having issues coming to court.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android