McLennan County Official Hopes To Make Convicts Pay Up

McLennan County District Clerk Karen Matkin. (County photo/file)
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MCLENNAN COUNTY (May 8, 2014) A McLennan County official plans to use a new law to ensure that convicts who are placed on probation pay court-ordered fines and fees.

McLennan County District Clerk Karen Matkin says for years, criminals placed on probation learned to ride the system and finish out their sentences without paying the fines and fees.

“You can figure it out early on that you may be able to escape these financial obligations if you just wait long enough,” she said.

It was accepted that when their terms of probation were complete, that those fines and fees just went away, but last fall a new law was passed by the Legislature that changes that, Matkin said.

“In the last session of the Legislature, the law was changed which altered what people owed at the end of their period of probation,” she said.

Now convicts who have completed probation must still pay fines and fees, and if they don’t, there are steps the county can and will take, she said.

“We also can report them to the Department of Public Safety as being an individual who owes fines, fees and costs...and then they won't be able to get their drivers licenses renewed until they make arrangements to pay,” she said.

The collected fines will go to back to the county and "that in the long run helps the taxpayers," she said.

Recovering unpaid court fines and fees could be worth thousands of much-needed dollars to the county, she said.