MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County is holding a ‘court amnesty day’ on Saturday to move more than 1,500 cases through their system, many of which were backed up because of the coronavirus pandemic.
These cases involved several individuals who did not show up to their initial court hearings because of pandemic-related shutdowns.
Berkeley County’s Clerk of Court said they came up with the idea of holding an amnesty day to get many of these cases through their system.
“COVID is the only reason we are doing this,” said Clerk of Court Leah Dupree.
When an individual goes through bond court, they have a date to show up in court; this is so they can notify the court who will represent them and their case.
The physical office was closed during the pandemic, but a drive-thru option was made available. Many of these individuals just never showed up.
“We’ve noticed a large number of people hoping to get them to come in, and that way, we can start the process- whether that’s a guilty plea, a trial, or a dismissal,” said Dupree.
A notice to either contact the courthouse or appear at Saturday’s amnesty day was mailed out to 1,532 people facing charges in Berkeley County back on June 21st.
“It’s not a trick,” said Dupree. “We’re not trying to get you to the courthouse to detain you or arrest you, we’re trying to get everything lined up so we can proceed with court proceedings.”
Berkeley County said down to about 1,300 people of the 1,532 who have not contacted the courthouse.
250 people are scheduled to arrive each hour on Saturday. Seven rooms at the courthouse will be open to process the individuals, and clerks will work five lines of people to help with paperwork.
Even if you don’t have the $40 needed to apply for a public defender, you can show up with no money and they will allow you to pay that fee once your case is resolved.
Dupree said depending on how Saturday’s amnesty day goes, they may decide to hold another in the future.