Denver to Clear Low-Level Arrest Warrants at Fresh Start Event | Westword
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Denver Will Clear Low-Level Arrest Warrants at Saturday's Fresh Start

On Saturday, you can check the status of a warrant — without the fear of being arrested.
The City and County of Denver will clear active arrest warrants for low-level crimes this Saturday at the "Fresh Start" event.
The City and County of Denver will clear active arrest warrants for low-level crimes this Saturday at the "Fresh Start" event. boonchai wedmakawand

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Imagine being pulled over for a speeding ticket, then ending up in cuffs and behind bars because you didn't know you had an active arrest warrant.

Or maybe you're one of those Denver residents who's already aware that you're on the cops' radar, but you avoid going to court for fear of being thrown in jail or losing your job.

You and other such scofflaws can rest easy — for a day, at least — thanks to the city's first-ever Fresh Start event this Saturday, July 8, at the Denver Assessment, Intake, and Diversion (AID) Center, at 1370 Elati Street.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow, people will be able to come downtown to clear any low-level arrest warrants that they already know about or simply find out whether they have any, without the risk of being tossed in the clink.

The City and County of Denver will be resolving warrants for misdemeanors, Denver city code violations and probation violations — which often fly under the radar and cause residents to stay away from authorities and court proceedings, despite the fact that these crimes carry lesser punishments.

"That's scary for someone," acknowledges Carolyn Tyler, Fresh Start spokesperson. "Someone may not even know they have an active warrant, and then they get pulled over for something else and find their day has radically changed. For other people who know they have an active warrant, a lot of people, unfortunately, go into the shadows. We don't want people in the shadows. We want people to come out of the shadows and do the right thing — clear their warrant, resolve their case and get back on track." 

A group from Denver Pre-trial Services will be at this inaugural event to determine whether warrants are eligible to be cleared. Individuals will also be able to talk with defense attorneys, and a Denver County Court judge will be present.

Say an unknown warrant comes up — maybe from a judge issuing an arrest for not appearing in court after failing to pay a ticket and some court-ordered fees, or perhaps for violating probation. The subject of the warrant will be able to talk to the judge and possibly resolve the situation. And if a warrant isn't eligible to be resolved, the individual will be allowed to leave. "No arrests will be made, regardless of eligibility," Tyler says.

Neither felonies nor domestic violence offenses will be cleared at the event, according to officials. Warrants also won't be cleared if they are for violating Colorado's Victims Rights Act, which protects victims of violent crimes from intimidation, harassment and abuse.

In addition to basic misdemeanors, people will also be able to potentially resolve warrants for violations against Denver city codes —  like defacing property, curfew violations, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, trespassing, open alcohol container violations and non-alcohol traffic violations, among other things.
The offenses must be misdemeanors or city code violations that happened in the City and County of Denver.

The types of warrants that are eligible for clearing "run the gamut" of possible charges. "It's not that we expect to have a groundswell of this kind of offender or that kind of offender," Tyler says. "It will be across the board."

People who are on probation and report to either a county or city court in Denver can also potentially clear any warrants caused by violating the terms of their probation, which can include failing to report to their supervising officer or missing court-ordered payments.

The judge present at the event will decide how the case can be resolved — whether by paying a fine or setting a new date to appear in court. Warrant resolution will be on a case-by-case basis, Tyler says.

The idea of the Fresh Start program is to ultimately "get you back on track, either with your case at a specific court or if you've fallen off with probation," she tells Westword.

"There are so many cases that are just languishing," she explains. "They can't advance; they're just open and on the books, with no activity. So we can get the person accused of the crime to appear in court or have their case resolved some other way."

Tyler advises that people bring some kind of photo ID and the case number for their outstanding warrant (if they know it) to the Fresh Start event. Although this is a first for Denver, similar events across the country have seen individuals clear their records: Jefferson County held one this spring.

"These are cases that can't advance because a person didn't show up to court, for example, so now there's a warrant for their arrest," she says. "These would be people who have not been found guilty of anything, and we just need to get these cases resolved."

People might be named as defendants in a misdemeanor case that happened months or even years ago, but they're not arrested until the warrant comes up during a simple traffic stop.

"[Police are] supposed to arrest you for something that you may not even realize you had to tidy up with court two years ago. That's not a prospect that we like. We want to resolve these cases and get them handled," Tyler concludes.
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