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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Warrant amnesty period ends Friday

The+city+of+College+Station%26%238217%3Bs+warrant+amnesty+program+began+in+2007+and+clears+hundreds+of+warrants+every+year.
Photo by Photo by Josh Gleason

The city of College Station’s warrant amnesty program began in 2007 and clears hundreds of warrants every year.

College Station has been aiming to increase court appearances by offering amnesty to those with outstanding warrants, and failure to appear in court before the deadline could result in arrest.
Since 2007, College Station has offered a warrant amnesty period twice-per-year for those with outstanding warrants for Class C Misdemeanors. Ending on Nov. 2, the program waives the $50 warrant fee. When the amnesty period ends, a warrant roundup will take place from Nov. 3 to Nov. 11. Ed Spillane, presiding judge of the College Station Municipal Court, said the purpose of the amnesty period is to encourage those with warrants to appear in court.
“We want people to come to court; that’s the big message,” Spillane said, “If they come to the court, even during the roundup, they won’t be arrested.”
The warrant amnesty program benefits both the city and those who have outstanding warrants, Spillane said.
“It’s a win-win for defendants because they don’t get arrested; they don’t pay the warrant fee,” Spillane said, “It’s good for us because we get the case dismissed and can talk with them about their offenses.”
In the state of Texas, Class C Misdemeanors include certain traffic violations, disorderly conduct, minor in possession of alcohol, minor driving under the influence of alcohol and other offenses. 
Spillane said the city has seen considerable success in its past amnesty programs.
“We usually clear 300 to 400 warrants during each amnesty period,” Spillane said. “Anyone that comes in is a success, not only for us, but for that person. We have payment program coordinators at our court, alternative punishments like community service, and unless you come to court, you won’t know about that.” 
Similar success has been seen in California after an amnesty program for traffic cases was implemented. According to a 2016 report on the program, in the estimated impacts were far-reaching.
“There are an estimated 8.0 million amnesty-eligible accounts (for traffic violations) in California worth an estimated $6.5 billion,” the report said.
Spillane said the College Station amnesty program is important because it reaches out to the community to reduce the anxiety people have about going to court.
“We are trying to make court a place people do not fear,” Spillane said. “We try to make their time in court as efficient as we can. You do have to come to court. For many cases, not alcohol-related cases, you can pay online as well.”
City marshal Mike Lundy said the amnesty program focuses on community outreach for those who may be unaware that they have an active warrant.
“We all have busy lives, especially students because their whole focus is trying to graduate, so we may forget the fact that we have a citation,” Lundy said. “[The amnesty program] provides a reminder to folks. As long as they know that the courts are here to work with them, they’re going to come in.”
People with active warrants can visit cstx.gov/warrants or call 979-764-3683.

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