Wanted people can clear warrants via Allegheny County’s ‘amnesty program’ | TribLIVE.com

Wanted people can clear warrants via Allegheny County’s ‘amnesty program’

Natasha Lindstrom

Allegheny County has opted to cut hundreds of wanted people some slack over the next two weeks.

Anyone who has a bench warrant out for failing to appear in court can go to the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh through Feb. 1 to clear their warrant and schedule a new court date for their active case, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s and Pre-Trial Services offices announced Friday.

“The amnesty program will allow defendants to avoid the embarrassment of arrest and potential jail time, which typically takes four days before a court appearance,” Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus said in a statement.

The move is an effort by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s and Pre-Trial Services offices to shrink the backlog in “failure-to-appear” bench warrants, Kraus said.

At least 450 people are wanted countywide, and the county posted a “Failure to Appear List” to the county sheriff’s website. All warrants on the list were active as of Monday.

Most are wanted for misdemeanor offenses, including DUIs and writing bad checks, that led to arrest warrants when they failed to appear at a preliminary hearing or formal arraignment.

In such cases, defendants typically get charged by getting a summons in the mail.

But sometimes officials don’t have the right address or a person does not receive mail, and so a warrant gets issued for their arrest.

“The misconception with many defendants who receive a new court date is that they no longer have an active warrant because they have a subpoena for the latest court date,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

County officials anticipate that the program could boost public coffers, too.

They project that the amnesty program could save up to $135,000 in inmate housing costs, plus savings on what it costs courts and law enforcement to pursue fugitives.

View the list of wanted individuals on the sheriff’s website.

If you see your name, call the sheriff’s office at 412-350-4709 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. through Feb. 1. A public defender’s office representative will be provided to answer any questions.

“Although, if your name does not appear on the list, it should not be assumed you are not a wanted individual,” the sheriff’s office said.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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