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House Committee Considers Increase to Warrant Fees

On March 1, the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence took testimony on HB 443 by Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cy-Fair/Tomball) which would increase the fee charged to execute warrants on behalf of state courts from $50 to $75. Many county representatives supported the bill, including the Texas Association of Counties, Conference of Urban Counties, County Judges and Commissioners Association and the Justices of the Peace & Constables Association (JPCA).

During testimony, Harris County Constable and JPCA Past President Gary Freeman spoke on behalf of the bill, saying the process in metropolitan areas can cost up to $125. In Harris County, the $25 increase proposed by the bill would have raised nearly $4 million dollars last year. Harris County is expected to lose 300 deputies to budget cuts. The increase would fund the salaries and benefits of 55 deputies.

According to a release from the JPCA, the “Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provides for a fee that is intended to cover the costs borne by cities and counties for executing criminal warrants. Warrant fees are only assessed against people who have been found to have violated their court orders or who have failed to appear in court when ordered.

The warrant fee currently set at $50 dollars has not been increased since 1999. Since then, law enforcement personnel costs have nearly doubled and fuel costs have tripled. Harris, Dallas and Travis county officials have all reported that their cost to execute warrants far exceeds the $50 warrant fee that was set 12 years ago.”

According to the comptroller, the fee increase would bring in an additional $200,000 per year in general revenue for the state. The state receives 20 percent of the fee when the warrant is executed by a state peace officer, which currently brings in $1 million per year.

HB 443 was left pending in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. The JPCA encourages all commissioners courts to pass a resolution in support of the fee increase. If your county passes a resolution, please copy TAC when sending it to the members of your delegation.

For more information, contact Rick Thompson at (800) 456-5974 or .