Warrant Network to aid county with collecting fines
by Rory Doyle
Mar 06, 2013 | 1712 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bolivar County Justice Court is taking the next step to crack down on unpaid fines.

The court will be partnering with the Mississippi Warrant Network, an organization that notifies offenders there is an active warrant for their arrest for an old fine.

Offenders are reminded that they still owe the fines plus any added fees and possibly face contempt of court charges.

This applies to any case that's been to court, assessed a fine and not been paid — from DUIs, traffic violations, unpaid checks, misdemeanor convictions and more.

Justice Court Clerk Gloria Klauder first informed the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors of the MWN at a February meeting and the board voted to form a contract with the agency at Monday's supervisor's meeting in Cleveland.

"We are establishing this contract with the Mississippi Warrant Network because they are similar to a collection agency," said Klauder. "They will help us collect old fines that have been due for quite some time.

"We will give them the cases we want them to try and find, they will remit the money to the court and then release the warrant."

Klauder said she would begin with more recent cases and work her way back down the list of defendants.

The service will come at no cost to the county as MWN profits by lawfully adding an extra 25 percent fee to the defendant's fine.

This fee boosts to 50 percent for any defendant found outside of Mississippi.

"My advice is that if you owe a fine, come pay it now," added Klauder. "We are going to begin this service within a week or so, and in some cases, people are going to be paying a lot more than expected."

As requested by the board, representatives of MWN were at Monday's meeting to answer any remaining questions.

"We are not exactly the same as a collection agency, but we do have to comply with fair debt collection practices," said Operations Director Gene Newman. "The main thing is that these fines are old and taxpayers should be happy we are colleting on money that's due to the county.

"The money will help contribute to the county's budget in many ways.

MWN will make several skip-tracing searches in order to locate a defendant's current address, and this includes some preventative maintenance steps such as checking for new addresses before the first letter is ever sent out.

Newman said the company's 45-year background in the bail bonding business and contracts with numerous counties and cities throughout Mississippi gives MWN a superior ability to locate defendants.

The other significant difference between MWN and other collection companies is that MWN does not accept the money. All monies are paid directly to the court.

This insures that the courts records are always up to date and prevents a defendant from being arrested by mistake after the fine has already been paid.

Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker said the board is supportive of the arrangement because the county maintains power in all cases.

"We like this partnership because the justice court remains in control of the money from beginning to end," said Hooker. "Everything will be handled within the county's control.

"The last couple years we've been trying to work out ways to collect on back payments and we're happy with the Mississippi Warrant Network because it benefits the county at no cost to the county."

Klauder added that MWN's track record should be a big benefit to the court.

"My hope is that we can resolve at least 50 percent of these open cases, but they are convinced they can find these people and settle a lot more," said Klauder.

For more information on Mississippi Warrant Network, visit www.mswarrants.com.