Bethlehem district court offers amnesty program to settle outstanding fines

Written by on August 10, 2021

Bethlehem district court offers amnesty program to settle outstanding fines

By Ben Stemrich

August 10, 2021

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In one South Bethlehem courtroom, people with arrest warrants for unpaid fines are being extended an olive branch this week.

Listen to the story.

“We offer the opportunity for those parties who really have a desire to be in good standing with the law,” said District Judge Nancy Matos-Gonzalez.

“We will work with you in establishing a time-payment agreement.”

Matos-Gonzalez said there have been more unpaid tickets than usual for summary offenses — minor offenses like traffic violations — during the pandemic. And that can lead to a minor issue becoming a major problem.

So her court is holding a warrant amnesty period this week.

Through Friday, Aug. 13, those with active traffic or non-traffic warrants can appear in court without fear of arrest. Instead, they’re encouraged to work out a payment plan to clear the citations.

“It’s very difficult to come in anywhere and say ‘I don’t have money; I can’t resolve this,’” Matos-Gonzalez said.

“And sometimes it’s not in spirit with cooperation with the law. It’s about self-pride, it’s about shame, whatever it may be. So I thought this was the most reasonable measure.”

Matos-Gonzalez said it’s an attempt by the court to relieve some of the stress people have faced during the pandemic. 

Her court office — Court 03-2-10 — is located at 327 Broadway in Bethlehem. She said people can download an app called PADocket to determine if they have unresolved fines and warrants.

“Frankly, many people are not even aware they have outstanding warrants considering mail delivery of court notices, including license suspension matters,” she said.

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