Do the crime, pay the fine. But a new report shows a lot of fines in Virginia go unpaid causing the state to lose out on nearly $171 million dollars a year.
"My husband and I both got my traffic ticket back in November and about two weeks later we paid it," says Kelsey Schmidt.
However a recent state audit shows many Virginians aren't that diligent. In fact, it reports, nearly half of all court fines and fees in the state go unpaid.
In Roanoke City, there's more than a million dollars in outstanding fees since the Virginia Supreme Court started collecting the data. This is just for local offenses. Roanoke County's current balance also hovers around the million mark. Bedford, Pittsylvania and Franklin Counties debt all adds up to hundreds of thousands in unpaid fines.
"The truth is about 80 percent of all criminal work is indigent work, people who are charged and cannot afford an attorney," says Don Caldwell, Roanoke's Commonwealth's Attorney.
Caldwell says the state report is a bit misleading, pointing out many of the people who are charged will never pay.
"If a person is charged with capital murder, they're going to have literally hundreds of thousands if not millions in court cost. They're never going to see the light of day if they're given a capital murder life sentence," says Caldwell.
For people who aren't hard core criminals, most of the courts in this area use the tax department or DMV to recoup fines. However, many clerks say it's not always effective. For instance ,Bedford County estimates its collection rate is now about 30 percent. A year ago, it was about 60 percent and higher before that.
Further Breakdown of Unpaid Debts.
A large amount of crimes also fall under state issued charges (Totals as of 4/30/13 according to the state supreme court).
Roanoke City and State of Virignia amount owed is $9,945,020.58
Roanoke County and State of Virginia amount owed is $3,814,189.42
Bedford County and State of Virginia amount owed is $1,537,175.70
Pittsylvania County and State of Virginia amount owed is $1,124,239.11
Franklin County and State of Virignia amount owed is $1,372,341.63