February is Warrant Resolution Month in the City of Victoria, and Municipal Court is adding extra virtual dockets to help residents resolve their cases. If there is a warrant out for your arrest due to unpaid fines and other unresolved issues, I invite you to come speak with me about your case in order to avoid arrest.
Too often, people who fall behind on payment of fines and fees are afraid to reach out to the court to find a solution. This can cause a small mistake like a traffic violation to turn into a chronic struggle with no end in sight. The resident may have a hold placed on their driver’s license, preventing them from driving legally or getting insurance. And, if they are arrested, they could suffer other unsavory consequences related to their job security.
The City of Victoria Municipal Court started Warrant Resolution Month to help residents resolve their cases and avoid unwanted consequences like arrest. We don’t want to push residents further down the wrong path because of a minor offense. Instead, we wish to work with residents so that they can get on the right path to clearing their driving record.
Some residents assume that their case is hopeless if they cannot pay their fines in full. In fact, we have many options to resolve cases, such as deferring payment, allowing people to pay in installments or reducing the fine amount. The person may also be able to do community service to pay off fines and fees. Allowing residents options to address the payment of fines and fees is far better for them and for our community.
For the residents who go through our system, resolving their cases in this way can mean the difference between continuing to live in fear and becoming an active, contributing member of society. I have seen firsthand how resolving these issues can improve a person’s self-worth and inspire them to take advantage of opportunities previously unavailable. Having a driver’s license reinstated can be life-changing as it allows people to once again pick up their kids from school, drive to work and more without breaking the law or worrying about being arrested.
The open dockets for Warrant Resolution Month will be Monday, Feb. 8, at 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 20, at 9 a.m.; and Monday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. Information about how to join can be found at www.victoriatx.gov/municipalcourt. Residents without access to Zoom may call ahead at 361-485-3050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment to use our virtual kiosk.
Even though we make a special effort this month to help residents to resolve their cases, my goal throughout the year is the same: not to be vindictive but to help residents who have made mistakes take care of business and get back on the right path. If you need to make a payment or even if there is a warrant out for your arrest, please reach out to the court and I will work to help you with your situation.
Vanessa Heinold is the City of Victoria Municipal Court judge.