Hoping to encourage people to understand the court’s role in the city, the Mission Municipal Court is kicking off the proclaimed Municipal Court Week (Nov. 5-9) with a two-week amnesty period.
The municipal court will hold the amnesty program from Nov. 5 through Nov. 17. Mon. through Fri., the court will be available from 8 – 5 p.m., and Saturdays they will be open from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
“This year we’re doing a two-week amnesty period to celebrate Municipal Court Week,” Municipal Court Judge Jonathan Wehrmeister said. “We usually put them on, and we’re planning on implementing them in the spring of every year.”
During an amnesty period, any Mission tickets or warrants people have can be taken into the municipal court and be paid off. Those who wish to can pay off their tickets in full and have their warrant fees ($50) and any “failure to appear” charges removed or waived.
Wehrmeister mentioned that people can also utilize this amnesty period in conjunction with the court’s newly-implemented walk-in docket, which is available from 8 a.m. through 12 p.m. Mon. through Sat. in order to explore their options with a judge.
Amnesty programs have been implemented several times in Mission before, according to Wehrmeister. The court is aiming to highlight the benefits of coming in on time.
“We hope people come out and take advantage,” Wehrmeister said. “They can come in without the fear of getting arrested, pay their fines in full, save money and at the same time, will be taking care of the tickets that they have here.”
The judge also said that many people have taken advantage of the amnesty periods in the past.
“Even if they can’t pay it in full, a judge will be here, and they can communicate with a judge to look at alternative methods,” Wehrmeister said. “Whether it’s community service, payment plans or things like that. They can still take advantage of the amnesty program even if they’re not financially able to pay in full.”
The municipal court wants to prompt people to come in to discuss different ways to pay if that is what they need.
“It’s important so people aren’t driving around in fear,” Wehrmeister said. “They can take care of their matters and be able to drive in peace and save money.”
Starting the two-week amnesty period at the same time as Municipal Court Week was a decision made intentionally to promote awareness about the services provided by the Mission court.
“Our court is here not just during the amnesty period, but during all periods, for the people,” Wehrmeister said. “That’s why we have the walk-in docket established, so people can know that the court is here to serve them and see how best they can handle their tickets.”
“Ideally, we’d like to get to a point where amnesty is not even needed,” Wehrmeister added. “Where people just feel comfortable coming in.”