Prattville – Randall Houston, District Attorney of the 19th Judicial Circuit of Alabama covering Autauga, Elmore, and Chilton counties, announced today that an amnesty program would begin on Monday in an effort to collect overdue court fees.
Those people who currently have outstanding warrants (with the exception of worthless check fees) may pay unresolved state court costs and fines in the Circuit Clerk’s offices in the aforementioned counties. For those taking advantage of this period of amnesty, there will be a recall on outstanding warrants for their arrest.
“This program will allow people to pay back fines without being arrested,” said Houston. “There are about $404 million in costs out statewide, but only $3 million in our circuit, representing about 30,000 cases.”
“This is a win-win for everybody,” he continued.
Jennifer L. Hamilton, Communications Director, Office of District Attorney, 19th Judicial Circuit, stated that this was the first time this system will be attempted in this area.
“We’ve not done this before … it started when the Administrative Office of Courts, Judge Sue Bell Cobb, wanted the presiding judges (which is Judge Fuller in our circuit) to find a way to recoup some of the court costs that are outstanding,” Hamilton said. “Judge Fuller actually pulled this group together and wanted to know what we could do, but the Circuit Clerks are the driving force behind this and are the ones who will take the fees from the public.”
“They have tried this program in the City of Montgomery and it was very successful,” continued Hamilton.
The program will begin April 12 and run for two weeks. Fines should be paid in each county’s Circuit Clerk’s office and for the convenience of workers, extended hours will be available each Tuesday and Thursday until 7:00 PM.
A valid identification or a current utility bill must be shown to the Clerk and all payments must be made in cash. A minimum of ten percent is required and payment plans may be agreed upon because of the current condition of the economy.
According to Houston, there will be a harsher penalty if a fine is not paid within this time frame.
“If this doesn’t work, we’ll have a ‘round-up’ program and will go knocking at their door,” Houston said. “If that happens, they will have to pay the full fee amount at once.”
Article by Melissa Parker
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