Judge helps man avoid jail time to take care of his mother - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Judge helps man avoid jail time to take care of his mother

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
WACO, TX (KXXV) -

For one man, the threat of going to jail for unpaid traffic tickets was not an option because he is his 93-year-old mother's only caregiver. 

"It was a real threat that i was going to be taken away from being able to take care of my mother," Michael Parker said. "The court staff wrote me a letter saying that the judge has said I was going to spend 23 days in jail if i was re-arrested."

Judge Ed Spillane, the presiding municipal court judge in College Station, said that a judge does have options when it comes to dealing with defendants who have committed fine-only crimes. 

"If you can’t pay the fine immediately, or if you are indigent – all of you money goes to necessities, then the judge can order community service," Spillane said. But the judge added that if a person does "refuse to pay fine and refuse to do community service – then person can go to jail."

Parker said he had four tickets that dated back from 2012. He said that at first he couldn't pay the tickets because he he lost his job and was only receiving unemployment, but then he became his mother's primary caretaker. After that, he could not pay the tickets or do community service outside of the house. 

He said that he tried to explain his situation to a court clerk, but he did not get anywhere with talking to them. 

"The court staff wrote me a letter saying that the judge has said I was going to spend 23 days in jail if i was re-arrested," Parker said.

Spillane said he’s working to make sure more people like Parker do not have to worry about going to jail because they cannot pay their tickets or do community service. He said that people in some situations can actually have the fines waived. 

"For some people, community service is an undue hardship," the judge said. "They may have a terminal illness, they may be in the penitentiary and then the judge can find that they are indigent, and it’s an undue hardship – and waive the court cost."

According to Texas Office of Court Administration statistics, more than 52,000 cases in Waco were fine-only charges in the last year. Of those more than 52,000 cases, only three of them had fines waived, compared to the more than 11,000 cases that were satisfied by jail time.

After communicating his concern with Judge Christopher Taylor, Parker said he and the judge were able to compromise. Parker is now able to log the hours he spends taking care of his mother for his community service. 

"She raised me, she didn’t complain about me when I was a baby," he said. "So it’s my turn to take care of her."

Parker said he has to complete 150 hours of community service. 

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved. ?

Powered by Frankly