Three months after Country Stampede, the Pottawatomie County Attorney’s Office is still sorting through cases of people who had a little too much fun at the annual music festival.
Sherrie Schuck, Pottawatomie County attorney, said the office has filed 142 cases, and most defendants have called or appeared before the court to resolve their offenses. But those who haven’t face bench warrants and higher fines.
“Of the 142 cases we filed, we had about 20 people who didn’t show up for their court dates,” Schuck said.
Schuck said most of the tickets handed out at Stampede were for minor in possession, though some were given for open containers. She said the minors ticketed typically opt for diversion, a program that allows first-time offenders to have their records expunged if they complete an education program.
“Nine out of 10 of these kids have no history, have not been caught and are therefore eligible for diversion,” Schuck said.
She said for the 1 percent who do not qualify for diversion, it is usually because of prior alcohol-related history or if the offender was belligerent or abusive when the officer tried to issue the ticket.
Schuck said the average cost for the MIP and diversion, including court costs, is about $570.
Schuck said that cost can go up for a variety of reasons. If offenders plead guilty or are found guilty the cost usually goes up by about $100. It also goes up if they don’t show up for court
She said this year’s number of no-shows is about average. She said the reason most don’t attend is that they live outside the area and making the court date is not feasible. She also said many are teenagers in school, making it more difficult to get away to make the dates.
“Sometimes school is in the way,” Schuck said. “Most of them are in high school right now. Most of them live in western or southern Kansas.”
Schuck said those who did not show, the court issued bench warrants for their arrest. She said that while law-enforcement officers can easily find those in the area who miss court dates, many live farther away.
“Since the majority of those live outside our jurisdiction, our dispatchers will send out those warrants and let local law enforcement carry out the orders,” Schuck said.
She said that those remaining 20 offenders will “trickle in” over the next six months. She said then local officers have to go pick up the person —increasing the cost of the ticket — or they would set a cash bond for the amount of the ticket owed.
Schuck said that while most call within a couple of days after Stampede, all the cases, including the stragglers, usually resolve before the next year’s stampede kicks off.
“It is a several-month process,” Schuck said. “People start calling the first week following Stampede. We started seeing our first cases Sept. 6 and 7. Everything should be concluded by the end of October. So, it usually takes about four months to conclude everything.”