People with outstanding warrants for a failure to appear in Faulkner County District Court or the city of Conway will have the opportunity to have those warrants dismissed during an amnesty court event on Friday.
According to a news release, those with any failure to appear issues with citations from the Faulkner County Sheriff’s office or from Conway are able to appear from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Faulkner County District Court to have their case added to District Judge Chris Carnahan’s docket. Carnahan said having a failure to appear warrant can create obstacles.
“It’s one thing that can wind up flagging on research for people who are trying to get a job, things like that. It may raise questions with employers. So, we want that stuff, if we can, to be avoided and taken off and just [have] people deal with the underlying charge,” Carnahan said.
Those charges, according to Carnahan, are mainly vehicle related, including speeding and seatbelt tickets.
“The typical charges that this amnesty is geared toward are traffic offenses and people who have maybe missed their court date because they have a city code violation or something like that and they didn’t show up for,” Carnahan said
Failure to appear warrants stemming from charges above a Class A misdemeanor are not eligible. Carnahan said there are mainly two possibilities with the amnesty of the qualifying warrants.
“We can set a new court date to settle the underlying speeding charge…theft or property charge down the road, with a trial. Or, if they want to take care of it that day and we handle…the prosecutors agree to all of that, then we can go ahead and dispose of that case that day and get the whole thing wrapped up and done with,” Carnahan said.
While cases can be taken care of that day, Carnahan said that’s not the main goal.
“There’s several hundred of these ‘failure to appear’ warrants that we would like to get the cases disposed, moved on. Whether it’s guilty or not guilty, I’m not so much concerned with. We just need people to show back up in court and get their case dismissed…or taken care of,” Carnahan said.
This is the second annual amnesty court held on Valentine’s Day for Faulkner County. Brittani Little is an officer at the Conway Police Department in the warrants division. She said a growing number of outstanding warrants last year prompted the department to pitch the idea of an amnesty day to the court.
“The misdemeanor warrants were just stacking up more than what we could really handle. We had over 3,000 about this time last year. We spoke to the courts and the judge and asked if we could possibly do an amnesty day because we had never done one before. And they agreed and it was a big success,” Little said.
Last year, the court cleared 174 outstanding failure to appear warrants. Little said though the Conway Police Department has around 2,050 outstanding warrants and assumes Faulkner County has a similar amount, she expects around 100 people will come on Friday.
Little says those interested in participating in the amnesty court should plan on waiting at least an hour before their case is heard and to dress warmly, as there will be some time spent waiting outside in the cold. To speed up the process, Little recommends calling ahead and letting the court know they will be there.
“We’ll pull their warrant and have it in a stack and ready at the courthouse, so when they show up, they tell us their name and we’re able to serve it right then. If they don’t do that, we will have to try to track down where their warrant is and get their warrant transported over to the courthouse, which means they’ll be standing there a little bit longer,” Little said.
According to Carnahan, arriving earlier in the day would be more ideal. However, he said they will see people at any time between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.