District judge offering warrant amnesty week for people with summary cases

A Bethlehem district judge is giving people with summary warrants a chance to take care of their court cases without fear of being arrested.

District Judge Nancy Matos Gonzalez’s “Warrant Amnesty Week” will be held next week, Aug. 9-13, for defendants with active traffic or non-traffic summary warrants in her court at 327 Broadway in Bethlehem.

Matos Gonzalez serves in district court 03-2-10, which covers wards 1-4 in Bethlehem in Northampton County.

Summary offenses are the lowest level criminal citations, and can include traffic violations and non-traffic charges such as disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and retail theft.

Amnesty will only be offered in summary cases, and is not eligible for defendants facing misdemeanor or felony charges, or for defendants with warrants in other district courts.

If you believe you may be eligible for the program, search court cases by participant name on the state’s online docket here.

Matos Gonzalez, who is retiring in January after 30 years of service, said she gave significant thought and consideration into how to offer the community help during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

“Covid’s effects are far reaching and it is my professional opinion that currently a disproportionate amount of warrants exist on low level summary offenses,” the judge said in a news release. “During Covid, many members of the public were subject to financial constraints, necessary relocations, and escalated mental health and/or drug and alcohol related issues. Those issues were magnified for vulnerable populations who struggled to obtain limited available resources from social services agencies that were inundated and overwhelmed by the masses. The end result is that the court has been a landing spot for many. To counter that, we are committed to working with people who wish to come in good standing with the court.”

Many may not even be aware they have outstanding summary warrants, Matos Gonzalez said.

Her office has seen “volumes” of mailed court notices, including license suspension matters, being returned to the court because they could not be delivered to the defendant.

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Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com.