OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Opelika’s Municipal Court staff is urging individuals to start 2022 off right by taking advantage of the city’s first-ever Court Forgiveness Program allowing those with certain municipal court charges to clear their cases without concern of being arrested, paying fines, or court costs associated with a Failure to Appear Warrant.
“We have over 1500 outstanding Failure to Appear warrants for our court, and we are trying to get those cleared up and help people out. So, they can come to municipal court during February and March and present themselves and get their problem taken care of. It could be for a ticket or a previous arrest they didn’t show up for, and we will do away with the arrest warrant, fines, and court costs for the FTA warrant. Of course, now, they have to take care of their other business, but we will do away with the risk of going to jail for the Failure to Appear,” said Municipal Court Judge Ben Hand.
Court Forgiveness is offered to all individuals who have received traffic or parking tickets, failed to appear or pay fines, and for whom warrants have been issued or are pending on these charges.
“This program is a tremendous benefit for the citizens of Opelika. We hope that these individuals will take advantage of this opportunity,” said Judge Wes McCollum.
Anyone wishing to take advantage of the program may present themselves to the Municipal Court magistrates office located at 300 MLK Boulevard between February 1 – March 31, 2022. Extended hours will be available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. This is drop-in only. No appointments are required. Eligible individuals must bring at least one form of identification.
“If you don’t come up and take care of it and you get pulled over or get into a situation like you have a car accident or anything like that, that warrant is going to show up, and they are going to take you to jail, where you have to bond out and pay fines and court costs associated with that FTA,” said Hand.
Payments can be made with cash, Visa, or Mastercard. If an eligible individual cannot pay the full amount, they can speak with the court to arrange a payment plan. Individuals also can do community service or the Ready to Work program instead of fines and costs.
“It’s over a million dollars in possible fines and court costs we are doing away with if people will help us out and get their books taken care of. So if an FTA warrant is holding you up because you are worried you are going to jail, come on up and get it off the books. You will get a court date, and you will have to take care of the old matter; if there are court costs and fines associated with that matter, we can work with you and put you on a little payment plan to get it knocked off,” said Judge Hand.
It is important to note that only individuals who have outstanding warrants for failing to pay traffic or parking fines or failing to attend court on their assigned date are eligible for this program. Since these have been adjudicated, it also includes probation and Time To Pay (TTP) cases. Should any eligible individual with a warrant come into contact with law enforcement prior to taking advantage of this court forgiveness program, they are subject to immediate arrest.
The Court Forgiveness program does not include new drug, alcohol, firearm, and domestic violence cases. Mayor Gary Fuller added, “The city incurs high expenses to deal with those people who ignore the law. We simply ask that people communicate with our court clerk so that we can work with them and put their criminal case behind them.”
For a complete listing of details on the Court Forgiveness Program, visit www.opelika-al.gov or call the Opelika Municipal Court office at 334-705-5196.