Additional fines possible for failure to appear in court, even for speeding tickets

Additional fines possible for failure to appear in court, even for speeding tickets

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - If you or someone you know has skipped a court appearance, it's possible a judge can add an additional fine to your name. Friday, August 1, 2014, a new law goes into effect that will raise the fine on even the smallest offenses, like speeding tickets.

2012 was the last time Baton Rouge opened it's misdemeanor jail. That's a short time lockup for people who didn't pay fines or answer warrants.

In the two weeks it was open, back then, nearly 6,000 people crowded downtown to clear outstanding warrants.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says that trial run translated to a 20 percent reduction in overall crime.

But now, everyone goes to parish prison, regardless of the crime. Earlier this year, there was talk of re-opening the misdemeanor jail, but nothing came of it.

A bill was introduced, passed and signed by Governor Bobby Jindal, to allow the city to create a lockup for people who do not appear in court dates for misdemeanors and traffic violations.

"This would free up more bed space and space for courts if they'd like to put people in jail overnight or a day or two," said Moore.

The new law, also allows for additional and larger fines. In district court, the fine adds $50 and city court $25. But it is up to the judge whether they do so or not.

Those fees are on top of whatever other costs the person has accumulated.

That money will defray the cost of picking someone up and be used to help pay for the jail.

"At this point, we're not sure how the jail will be operated or who will operate it. We'll wait and see how the money comes in, how much money we have," said Moore.

Currently, it's estimated Baton Rouge has well over 100,000 outstanding warrants.

So, the district attorney recommends if you don't want an additional penalty or a ride to jail, Thursday is the last day to clear your name.

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