FORT HOOD, Texas - Giving people a second chance to right their wrongs, the U.S. Magistrate Court here, in partnership with the post's Directorate of Emergency Services, is holding a warrant amnesty, where people with outstanding tickets and warrants have an opportunity to take care of their business before possibly being arrested.
“We’re going to give the population the opportunity to turn themselves in. If they turn themselves in, their overall punishment may be reduced, but if they don’t turn themselves in, it could potentially be bad,” Maj. Aaron Salter, special assistant United States attorney and chief of federal litigation at Fort Hood, explained. “It’s considered an amnesty because potentially some of the higher fines, depending on the type of crime they were charged with, could be waived.”
The list of active warrants published by the magistrate court can be found at https://home.army.mil/hood/index.php/units-tenants/iii-corps-1/fort-hood-us-magistrate-court beginning March 11. Violators can call the court and schedule a hearing during the amnesty period from March 22 to April 1.
He said the crimes range from speeding tickets, shoplifting from the Exchange, parking violations and not declaring a firearm. The included violations occurred on Fort Hood, at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area or the Veterans Affairs hospitals in Temple and Waco.
Salter said the warrants are from Soldiers, family members, retirees and anyone else who received a tickets on federal property. There are between 150-200 magistrate warrants and between 1,100-1,300 traffic ticket warrants. He said the tickets date back to 2012. He reminded people that because there could be several people with the same name, it is important to call and verify if a name on the list is you or someone else.
Jennifer Rounds, deputy chief of Fort Hood DES, said a majority of the outstanding tickets and warrants are from traffic violations and other misdemeanor offenses. She said people can come to the court and schedule a payment plan if they cannot afford to pay their violation fee. She encouraged people to take care of it now before DES is forced to take action, which could cause even more expenses.
Rounds said, for example, if a person is stopped for a warrant, their vehicle will be towed. Because the traffic tickets and warrants are federal, they would not go to the local Bell County Jail, but to the McLennon County Jail. If children are in the vehicle, they would also have to call Child Protective Services to care for the them.
“It’s more economical to come in and work something out with them (the court),” she added.
Following the warrant amnesty period, Fort Hood DES will begin to crack down on outstanding arrest warrants. Salter warned that if a person fails to appear and adjudicate their ticket, they could be subject to arrest during the warrant round-up. He said there will be a conscientious effort by law enforcement agencies to go after the people in more of a deliberate way.
“When we transition to the round-up, we will coordinate with local law enforcement for any arrests off-post,” Rounds explained.
Jonathan Caylor, investigations branch chief with Fort Hood DES, said people should take this opportunity to care of their personal business while they still have options.
“It really gives you all the options in how you take care of it,” Caylor, said, “because once law enforcement becomes involved in it, it takes those options away.”
To resolve a warrant status, violators can call to schedule an appointment. Traffic warrants should call (254) 669-6182. Other misdemeanor warrants should call (254) 669-6183. Verification of names can also be conducted through those phone lines. The amnesty period will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., March 22 to 25; 9 a.m. to noon, March 26; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., March 29 to April 1.
The Fort Hood U.S. Magistrate Court is located at Building 5794, in the field behind Club Hood. Off-post personnel coming to court are asked to enter the installation through the Mayborn Gate for easy access. Visitors needing passes may enter through the Bernie Beck Gate, after first receiving a visitor’s pass at the Marvin Leath Visitor Center.