More than 3,500 people with active bench warrants in Augusta could have a lot more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving if they take advantage of an offer from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the newly-formed Augusta Probation Office.
This past week, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree announced that his office is offering a unique opportunity to about 3,500 individuals who have active bench warrants, some dating back more than two decades, to pay off their fines at a reduced rate.
On Wednesday, Nov. 16 and Thursday, Nov. 17, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Henry Brigham Community Center on 2463 Golden Camp Road, the sheriff’s office will waive the $35 bench warrant fee while the Richmond County courts have agreed to reduce fines by 40 percent if they are paid in full.
These are active, outstanding state court traffic bench warrants and probation bench warrants, according to the sheriff’s office.
For thousands of people in Augusta, this program will allow an individual to clear his or her name, receive proof that their warrant has been properly addressed and paid, and avoid being thrown in jail if they happen to be pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy.
“The “Fresh Start Initiative” is a programmed aimed at helping persons who currently have an active outstanding State Court traffic bench warrant or probation arrest warrant on file with the sheriff’s office to clear that warrant without fear of arrest at a substantially reduced cost,” the sheriff’s office stated this past week. “The sheriff’s office has identified over 3,500 warrants, some dating back to the 1990s, where the defendant can merely pay a fine and complete some court documents to be free and clear of any other obligations including arrest.”
But anyone interested in this initiative must act this week or suffer the regular consequences of being picked up on an outstanding warrant.
“This program will only last for two days consisting of 24 hours of amnesty,” the sheriff’s office stated. “At the end of this initiative any persons picked up on the active warrants will be arrested and processed through the normal judicial procedures.”
So, are you curious about who might be on the list?
Could you be on the list?
To review the names on the list, visit www.augustaga.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8137 or for questions, please contact the sheriff’s office at 706-821-1039.
But before you head down to pay your fine, you should also understand all that it entails.
“This program is designed to allow individuals to completely clear their outstanding arrest warrants as well as the pending legal case which prompted the warrant, therefore participants must be aware of and willing to abide by the following legal notice: By entering a plea of guilty or no contest, you are knowingly and voluntarily waiving your right to an attorney, to a trial, and any legal defense to the charge against you; and, you are admitting you committed the offense with which you have been charged,” the sheriff’s office stated. “Additionally, you understand that the charge to which you are pleading may appear on your drivers’ record or may affect your license status.”
So, just know that fact before you agree to pay off the warrant.
But, all in all, the sheriff’s office and the Augusta Probation Office, along with the mayor’s office and state court judges, should be applauded for this initiative.
Do you think this would have ever occurred if the the private probation company, Sentinel Offender Services, was still in Richmond County?