Another NJ county offering an event for fugitives to come clean
Individuals attempting to avoid arrest for an outstanding warrant in Burlington County have a chance later this month to resolve their cases and access services that could help them get their lives back on track.
A municipal warrant resolution program is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 24 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Burlington County Human Services in Westampton.
"When you don't resolve your outstanding fines and fees, and there's a bench warrant issued, you can't seek housing, you can't seek employment," said Judge Glenn Grant, administrative director of the New Jersey Courts. "We're talking about low-level offenses. Nobody who's failed to appear on a DWI is going to get their case dismissed."
Those who attend in an attempt to get their case dismissed, or at least be given more time to comply with fines, will also be able to receive information on a variety of services related to addiction treatment, mental health, on-site photo identification and more.
While this may be the first event of its kind held by the Burlington Vicinage, the concept is not new in New Jersey, and it's one that's championed by New Jersey Courts.
Since February 2019, according to Grant, close to a dozen warrant-resolution programs in the Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem Vicinage attracted about 330 individuals and resulted in the recall of more than 560 warrants. The vicinages of Atlantic/Cape May and Mercer also hold these events for wanted individuals.
"The goal, as we've said all along, is not to collect revenue, but to ensure public safety while balancing that against the threat of having an unfair system, particularly for those who are indigent, poor," Grant said.
Courts take special note of an individual's financial circumstances and employment status, among other factors, when determining how to move forward with one's case, Grant said.
The state in early 2019 dismissed nearly 780,000 unresolved tickets for minor offenses that were at least 15 years old, prompted by a Supreme Court committee's recommendation.
Grant noted individuals with an outstanding warrant do not have to wait for special programs such as the one scheduled for next week in Westampton.
"You can go to your municipal court to have that warrant recalled and your case rescheduled for a hearing, and there's a possibility ... that that case could be resolved," he said.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.