Truancy FAQ

What options does a truancy court have to collect the $50 court cost and any fine (of up to $100) that can be assessed for contempt of court?

There actually is, in some circumstances, an explicit process to enforce a failure to pay the $50 court cost.  Section 65.107 calls for the new $50 court cost in truancy cases.   Subsection (b) allows (but does not require) the truancy court judge to make the order to pay the $50 court cost a part of the remedial order under Section 65.103.   If the order to pay the court cost is made part of the remedial order, then the child can be held in contempt for a failure to pay.  So contempt is available in truancy cases for a failure to pay the $50 court cost.  Under the contempt provisions, a child’s driver’s license can be suspended or denied.  But the only other option is to order the child to pay a fine of up to $100.  

There is no good way to really enforce that order to pay the fine of up to $100 for contempt.  The capias pro fine provisions seem to be limited to criminal cases and therefore do not apply in truancy cases.  Use of a writ of execution as allowed in civil cases by Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 622 could possibly be used against a parent or against a child who is 17 or older.  But the writ-of-execution procedure doesn’t fit well in truancy cases involving such small amounts of money.  So as a practical matter there is no real enforcement mechanism.  There is no option (as there is in juvenile cases) to send the child to a juvenile detention facility or order the child to perform community service.  This may be something that needs to be addressed by Supreme Court rule or by the Legislature in the next session. (Ted Wood, Office of Court Administration)