Offering amnesty for those who find themselves in this situation is not a new practice in Villa Rica, but it is the first time the police department has done it since 2010. Past amnesty months have helped clear between two and three dozen warrants off the books.
Under the amnesty program, those facing a failure to appear warrant can come to the police department at any time day or night and pay their infraction fine and the $200 warrant fee will be waived for each outstanding warrant. Only warrants issued through the municipal court for failure to appear for such infractions as traffic charges, suspended driver’s license, shoplifting or misdemeanor marijuana are covered.
In addition to facing arrest due to an outstanding warrant, those who fail to appear also have their driver’s license suspended by the state at the request of the police department. Paying the fine during amnesty month not only allows the defendant to save money, but they’ll get their license back as well after paying a reinstatement fee.
“We’ll waive the warrant fee and then the warrant will be recalled and they’ll be issued paperwork to get their driver’s license reinstated,” Court Clerk Amanda Honea said.
The police department has more than 300 outstanding failure to appear warrants and they were all recently sent postcards informing them of the opportunity to clear those warrants during the amnesty month. However, only about 10 percent have taken the department up on the offer in the past.
“It’s a win-win because we can help the citizens by getting this cleared up and off their record, and at the same time we can clear these warrants,” Police Chief Michael Mansour said. “They’re very popular. The average warrant cost is $200, so with that being waived they’re saving that $200 by only have to pay the ticket.”
One amnesty month ends, the police department plans to step up efforts to clear the warrants still on the books. Those who haven’t cleared their warrants are subject to arrest. Even though amnesty is offered for an entire month, it would be prudent for those with an outstanding warrant to come forward early because if they are stopped for another violation or police come to their house and its discovered they have an outstanding warrant the fee will not be waived.
“This amnesty is only if they come to us to clear it up,” Mansour said. “After the month of May we’re going to actively start seeking these people and try to serve warrants on them. This is a one-time deal where they need to get it done.”
The fines can be paid at the Villa Rica Police Department on Main Street with a check, money order, cash, or by Visa, Discovery or Master Card credit cards.
Anyone with questions regarding the program and whether they’re eligible can contact Honea at 678-840-1318.