Newark officials are expected to clear several old warrants over a 4 day period this week in a program that is both fair and effective. Fugitive Safe Surrender is costing the state $100,000 but saving much more than that as it allows people to bring themselves in rather than waiting for law enforcement to come find them.
The program has set up shop in the Bethel Baptist Church on Market Street where people are encouraged to turn themselves in, in exchange for leniency on nonviolent charges.
According to the New York Times, 1,000 people had taken advantage of the program in the first two days. In Camden, where the original round up occurred last year, 2,245 turned themselves in over a two day period. That drive cleared 7,000 warrants from the books.
Fugitives, which seems such a harsh word for people accused of traffic violations, enter the church where their warrant is looked up on a computer. Then, they head next door where makeshift courtrooms are set up in order to work out a deal with the judge.
The Times article details several examples of people going in there with suspended licenses and walking out with accommodations. One man, who owed $1,500 for several non violent charges, got his fine reduced to $15 and the warrant cleared.
Another, owing back child support but unable to work due to the warrant, was granted relief from the warrant on a promise to appear for future court dates, allowing him to get started on making the money that he owes.
The stressful feeling of having a warrant out for your arrest can be horrible. It’s like a constant shadow over your shoulder. This fear can make it difficult to know what to do. While the Fugitive Safe Surrender program is only a 4 day event, the right defense attorney can assist you with working out a plea deal when you have charges or a warrant out for your arrest. Old warrants can be cleared by other legal means, sometimes without you needing to come to court.
If you failed to report for court and a warrant was issued, you must eventually answer to those charges. Call me today to discuss the best way to handle your situation.