Baton Rouge offers citizens chance to settle bench warrants without fear of being arrested

Baton Rouge offers citizens chance to settle bench warrants without fear of being arrested
Residents will have the opportunity to settle their outstanding warrants (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge City Court is offering an opportunity for everyone to clear their name by the end of this week.

Monday through Saturday, people can come to the court on St. Louis Street across from City Hall and work out their warrants with a judge and prosecutors. No one has to worry about being arrested, and the Saturday court gives people an opportunity to settle their warrants without missing work.

"It causes a burden on the police officers, having to stop, then arrest, and then set these people for court dates, when 90 percent of them are misdemeanor crimes that really only carry a fine or six months in jail," said Elzie Alford, clerk of court for Baton Rouge.

He says they have over 100,000 active bench warrants. He says many of them are people who can't make their court dates because of commitments to their job or family. Someone with a bench warrant is at risk of being arrested and it can impede them while they're applying for a job.

"The bigger thing is to just make sure that we don't have the stigma attached to a lot of these misdemeanor fines, and that we're allowed to kind of clear our books out and to just kind of put people more on a right path," Alford said.

All people need to do is check in is bring their paperwork, including the ticket or citation, and a picture ID. You are not allowed to bring your cell phone into court, so leave it in the car.

And just to be clear, this is not amnesty, so you won't get a clean slate for showing up. This is an opportunity to work out a deal with prosecutors and move forward.

"We are going to be very liberal with working with the citizens and we're gonna' make sure that we take care of everybody to the degree that we can," Alford said.

Court is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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