Ward 3 Lake Charles city judges and marshal announce amnesty program

Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - No one likes having an unpaid ticket or other court issue hanging over their head. Well, if it’s something that should have been taken care of at Ward Three Lake Charles City Court, you may be entitled to a break.

The judges and marshal at City Court are recalling warrants and giving people a break on fines and court costs for certain offenses. Officials say you could save 50 percent.

The amnesty program starts Monday, April 19, and lasts until Wednesday, May 19.

If you didn’t show up for court, there’s probably a bench warrant that’s going to cause you problems eventually.

Ward 3 Lake Charles City Court Judge Jamie Bice tells people that.

“Two bad things can happen when you don’t attend court. The first is a bench warrant is issued for your arrest. The second is that information is sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles and they suspend your license. The only way you can help yourself is to be in court,” said Bice.

Judge Ron Richard urges people to take advantage of their Fresh Start Amnesty Program.

“They can come in. They don’t have to worry about being arrested or handcuffed, because they have outstanding warrants. And for a reduced, significantly reduced amount, [residents] can come into City Court and handle their business and get these things off of their record,” said Richard.

He says that’s important for a variety of reasons: Say you get stopped out of state for speeding. You could wind up in jail if it shows a bench warrant in Lake Charles.

Plus, Richard says it could interfere with getting a job or create a problem with one’s probation.

Marshal Nathan Keller says they wanted to help people through struggles created by the pandemic and the hurricanes.

“We just saw that there was a need to come in and say.’How do we provide some type of relief for the community with the anxiety of trying to get your home back, being displaced. How do we provide some relief?’” said Keller.

The Fresh Start Amnesty Program lasts from Monday until May 19 and only applies to misdemeanors handled at city court, including those handled by the Calcasieu District Attorney’s Office at City Court.

But three misdemeanors require a court date: DWI, synthetic marijuana and physical battery. Those who do not qualify for amnesty can get a new court date.

And officials say besides an opportunity to clear up outstanding warrants, it’s a chance to clear up old traffic tickets. They say they do have payment plans available.

It’s also an opportunity to get your driver’s license back.

The amnesty is valid only for warrants issued before January 1, 2021.

For more information, call 337-491-1565.

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