East Lansing district court offers amnesty program

Ingham County's 54-B District Court, 101 Linden St. in East Lansing, will offer an amnesty program now through July 12 at 4:30 p.m. for persons who have been issued a bench warrant on or before May 21 for failure to pay court fines and costs.

This amnesty program is a program in which some court costs are forgiven and bench warrants are recalled, so long as the defendant pays the original court fines and costs in full by the program's end date/time.

A bench warrant is issued by the court after a defendant fails to pay fines and costs when they are due and then fails to appear at a hearing where he or she is given an opportunity to provide an explanation as to why payment was not made. If the defendant is detained by police anywhere in the state, he or she may be arrested and returned to the court.

Amnesty will not apply to those with outstanding arrest warrants or those with bench warrants issued by other courts.

The names of those defendants (with publicly accessible files) who have been issued a bench warrant for failure to pay fines and costs can be found at www.54bdistrictcourt.com. A defendant named in a bench warrant may come to the court Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or contact the court by phone at 517-351-7000. If all outstanding fines and costs are paid in full, the court will:

* Recall and cancel the arrest warrant.

* Waive one 20-percent late penalty if assessed (not all cases have this assessment).

* Waive one $25 warrant fee if assessed (not all files have a warrant fee).

The court accepts cash, cashier's checks, VISA and MasterCard. Personal checks will not be accepted. All bench warrants issued on or after May 22 will be charged a warrant fee of $50 and are not subject to this amnesty program.

Those who are financially unable to pay outstanding fines and costs may request a payment plan. A Petition for Payment Plan may be completed at www.54bdistrictcourt.com. All information must be entered and a recommendation will be made to the judge. Amnesty will not apply, but if a payment plan is approved by the court, the bench warrant will be recalled and canceled so long as the defendant complies with the payment plan.

The amnesty period ends Friday, July 12. The court warns that no further consideration will be given and enforcement will resume in earnest for arrests on outstanding warrants.

Published: Fri, Jun 14, 2013