City posting unpaid tickets, warrants onlineSep 3, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
The City of Riverton is now posting on its website the names of residents with unpaid parking tickets and outstanding warrants.
The information is available at rivertonwy.gov.
A court docket for cases adjudicated in the municipal court is also now available on the website.
Municipal court handles misdemeanor complaints covered by city code, and state statutes incorporated into the city code, that take place within the limits of the city.
"The (municipal) court was looking for a new way to reach defendants," said finance division manager Mia Harris, who noted that the process was initiated by court staff. "They were trying to come up with ideas to make citizens aware that the warrants were issued and give them an opportunity to take care of them."
Court staff found that other municipal court websites also provide information online, Harris added.
Riverton's court protocol includes the mailing of letters to defendants to remind them that they have unpaid fines. Some phone calls are made as well.
"Unfortunately people move often and do not leave a forwarding address," Harris said.
The court has approximately $1,755 in unpaid parking tickets, with several dating back to 2011. Fines range from $25 to $75, and most are for "left wheel to curb," or parking on the wrong side of the street and violating the 3-6 a.m. time restriction. Other violations include blocking a sidewalk or illegally parking in handicap parking spots.
Riverton Police Department Lt. Wes Romero confirmed that it is illegal to park a vehicle on the wrong side of the street, but many people still do it. This creates a dangerous situation, he said, especially at night when the illegally parked vehicle's headlights are on, potentially confusing a passing motorist.
It creates hazards, and it's in violation of city ordinance," he said.
Romero was supportive of posting the information online. It can be helpful to people who forget they had an unpaid ticket or a warrant out for their arrest, he said. Based on his time as a supervisor with the Lander Police Department, Romero said staff members were hired there to make calls specifically for unpaid fines or failure to appear in court. Most of the time, he said, citizens were unaware of the situation.
The court has roughly 2,500 active warrants for individuals, some of whom have multiple warrants out in their name, Harris said.
In the Riverton municipal court alone, however, there are roughly 1,600 people with warrants.
Most warrants involve fines that are simply unpaid, she explained.
"Most, but not all, of them are alcohol related fines," she said.
Harris said the municipal court is in session at noon Wednesdays, and the online lists will be updated weekly, no later than Friday, after court.
The lists will be maintained by court clerks.
Parking tickets will remain on court records until they're paid.
Harris reiterated the court's protocol: "When a defendant goes the before the court, a judgment is issued.The judgment imposed normally consists of a fine, incarceration, or both.The judgment is acknowledged and signed by both the judge and the defendant.If the defendant is unable to pay their fine at that time, an arrangement is made for payment and is documented on the judgment.When the defendant fails to paywithin 30 daysof their agreed payment date, they are mailed a letter reminding them that they are in contempt.If they fail to contact the courtwithin 30 daysof the date of the notice, a warrant for arrest is issued."
Romero noted that all warrants are confirmed through dispatchers before they are carried out. Dispatchers are able to pull up the most recent information on the warrant via their own records, so they wouldn't be referring to the list posted online.
If it's a Fremont County warrant, the process is the same, he said: Officers call dispatchers, who check their system to confirm the status.
Harris said there is no violation of any privacy laws in posting the information online, as the information posted is already public record.
"The lists were posted online only to remind people that they had outstanding warrants or parking tickets with the court and that they need to be taken care of," she said.