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Crime Stoppers losing money from shortfall in court fees

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Updated: 9/17/2013 2:46 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Criminals are ignoring court-ordered fines and getting off scott free. That money is supposed to fund a local anti-crime group. Now, almost $1 million to fight crime, is falling through the cracks.

weeks in the making, but Action News finally got the hard numbers, and they show a major shortfall in collected payments.

"People just aren't paying their fees right now," said Charlie Broward, Public Information Officer for the Duval County Clerk of Courts.

Action News obtained the report breakdown showing from 2010 to May of this year. The Duval County Clerk of Courts assessed more than $1.7 million in fees.
However, they were only able to collect just over $562,000 from offenders.

We discovered, 80 percent of those payments were made by traffic court violators. That means murderers, drug dealers, and other serious offenders aren't paying up.

"Extend their probation, don't let them keep their driver's license, put penalties and sanctions in place, holding them responsible to pay that," said Bland Cologne the President of the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers.

Among those court payments is a state-mandated $20 fee per offender. From that, $17 goes right to Crime Stoppers. Over the past five years, we're told that money has decreased because the Duval County court can't force people to pay.

"I wouldn't say it's not working, but it could be working better," said Cologne.

So we wanted to know, how the clerk of courts plans to make it better.

"At the time they leave the court, we're going to give them more documentation, let them know what the consequences are like their licenses being suspended, and things like that. We'll let them know what their time period is and also let them know they have payment plans available," said Broward.

After the offender leaves the courthouse, they have 90 days to pay up. Crime Stoppers says they're on board with these plans.

Right now, only fees for civil cases can be paid online. The clerk of courts may allow criminal fees to also be paid through the website.

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