Four Ways to go from Case Management to Case Resolution
A traffic citation is issued and the offender, now defendant in a case on your docket, drives away. What happens if that person doesn’t pay the fine and resolve the case within 30 days? How about 90 days? What happens if that case remains open for 120 days or longer?
With an ever-growing number of cases vying for municipal courts’ resources, the longer a case remains open, the more work it takes to close. That’s why courts around the country are turning to technology to lighten the load.
Using the below tools, citizens are empowered to truly take ownership of their court experience by providing easy access to information. From the moment a case lands on the docket until the final payment is received, these tools work together to help courts resolve cases quickly and effectively.
1. Online Case Resolution Tools
From waiting in line to going online
Regardless of location, local politics, or any other varying factor, court clerks across the country spend their days doing the same thing: managing payments. Whether that means accepting a payment in full, setting up a payment plan, considering a request to extend a deadline, or even analyzing a request to defer or dismiss a ticket rather than make a payment – one of a municipal court clerk’s primary responsibilities is to resolve cases by accepting payment for fines.
For some citation types, that will always require the defendant to make a trip to the court house, but the majority of cases could be resolved online.
Using a citizen-facing web portal, courts are changing the way they interact with defendants by directing them to manage their tickets online rather than by waiting in line. This seemingly simple change has proven to drastically increase compliance rates while simultaneously decreasing the number of customers court clerks have to directly interact with on a daily basis.
2. Online Case Records Tools
From printed to instant
For many municipal courts, connecting with justice partners requires an in-person visit to gather the information about specific cases they need. With the same citizen-facing online portal, however, courts have found that this doesn’t have to be the only option.
Rather than physically going to the court and waiting for certain documents to be manually located by a clerk and then printed out for review, local attorneys, police, and other case parties can simply log in to the website and search for the information they need, including the court docket schedule.
No call. No visit. No paper wasted.
From time wasted to time spared
When a defendant fails to show up for a court date or make a payment on time, the court’s case load builds up just a little more. When it happens over-and-over again, the resources it takes to resolve that initial case can triple. From issuing warrants and arresting defendants to investigating unresolved warrants or even incarcerating defendants – the cost to the tax payers almost always ends up being more than the initial citation.
With automatic text and phone notifications, however, courts across the country are seeing major drops in failure to appear (FTA) rates. One city saw an FTA drop of 8 percent in the first 60 days and 33 percent in a year. Further than that, lobby traffic in the same court dropped by 23 percent because the simple reminder text gave defendants the opportunity to take advantage of alternative options like paying online or by phone.
These types of notifications relieve the court of the responsibility of contacting defendants to inform them of unpaid citations, hearings, warrants issued, or other matters by offering the capability to create and send customized phone messages in an audited environment.
Phone tools like Inbound Voice Response (IVR) systems can even help reduce the amount of payments clerks have to manually accept as well as decrease the number of calls about case information, court hours, and location.
4. Accessibility Tools
From one location to many
In growing cities where a court may be on one side of town but an increasing number of residents are living on the other side, physically visiting the court may be as much of a barrier as the ability to pay.
Municipal courts are overcoming this challenge by partnering with local businesses to add kiosks and payment centers to strategic areas of the city. Using payment collection software that automatically updates the court’s case management system (CMS), defendants can more easily access the justice system without further delaying the court’s docket. In some cases, the defendant may even be able to e-file the appropriate documentation directly into the court’s CMS using a citizen-facing portal.