Houston creates amnesty program through municipal courts to grab low-hanging fruit

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The Houston Municipal Courts Department announced plans to institute an amnesty program to resolve outstanding low-level misdemeanor cases and help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Defendants who qualify for amnesty may receive reduced fines and will not be subject to arrest when they appear in court.

The program starts Monday and will run until Friday, March 16, at 11:59 p.m. The amnesty covers all delinquent cases issued prior to Jan. 1, 2018.

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“After Hurricane Harvey, we’ve all been through a lot and there are many of us who are still rebuilding our lives. Municipal Courts staff can help you have one less thing to worry about, we are here to ease your burden by helping you to get your delinquent cases resolved,” Judge J. Elaine Marshall, director and presiding judge of the Municipal Courts Department, wrote in a press release on the program.

Defendants or their attorneys can apply for amnesty by appearing at the Houston Municipal Courts building, or by phone or U.S. Mail. Friends, family, or bondsmen are not eligible to apply on behalf of the defendant.

Defendants with previously adjudicated cases, parking citations, administrative violations, bond forfeitures or civil cases are not eligible for amnesty. However, defendants with Failure to Appear (FTA) cases are eligible to apply for the program.

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Those with questions on their eligibility for amnesty can contact the Houston Helpline at 3-1-1 (inside Houston) or 713-837-0311 (outside Houston) or visit the Houston Municipal Courts website at www.houstontx.gov/courts.

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