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Denver County Juvenile Court judge to cut delinquents a break

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He knows if you've been naughty. He knows if you've been nice. And now Denver County Juvenile Court Judge Kerry Hada is giving bad kids a chance to get on the court's good side with a post-Christmas present: On February 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Hada is running an amnesty program that will allow anyone with an outstanding juvenile warrant to come to his courtroom at 1450 Cherokee Street, pay a small fine and have their record wiped clean.

"People think, 'This is some sort of scam. The second I step in the court, I'm going to jail!'" says court administrator Matt McConville. "It's not. They're not."

There are a few conditions, however.

First, the warrant has to be out of Division 191-J, and it has to be for a ticket. Juveniles can get tickets for offenses such as curfew violations, possession of graffiti materials and getting into fights at school. Outstanding warrants can prevent people from getting a driver's license, McConville says.

Second, the warrant has to be more than a year old. Anyone -- even people who are twenty-five and got a ticket when they were sixteen -- can come to court. But those under eighteen have to bring a parent or guardian.

And third, everyone will have to pay a minimum $30 fee, as well as $46 in court costs. For people who can't afford the court costs, a bus provided by Denver Parks and Recreation will be standing by, ready to transport people to a Salvation Army food bank. There, they can work off their fines by sorting cans of donated food for a couple of hours.

It's been more than a decade since the court tried something like this, McConville says, and he hopes it's more successful than last time, when the amnesty day was held on a Saturday and suffered from low attendance. He figures the program, known as RAP It Up (RAP stands for Restore Accountability Program), has several things going for it, including that Tuesday, February 16 is a vacation day for Denver Public Schools.

The court's motivation? To clear its docket of an estimated ten thousand outstanding juvenile cases, McConville says: "The court wants to do justice. If we can get people in instead of having to arrest them, that's a good thing."

People who aren't sure if they have an outstanding warrant can call (720) 865-8099 to find out. Questions can also be emailed to JuvenileCases@DenverGov.org. For more information, check out the Denver County Court Juvenile Division's Facebook page.

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