NORMAN, Okla. — Cleveland County residents who may have a warrant out for their arrest now have a chance to wipe the slate clean.
The sheriff’s department is allowing those with outstanding citations to come in and take care of their fines without the threat of an arrest.
This involves people who never paid their court costs and fines after being arrested for a crime.
If they’re pulled over in a traffic stop, they would automatically be arrested.
But now, Operation Clean Slate, is a way around that.
Cleveland County court clerk, Rhonda Hall, said she’s always amazed at the amount of outstanding bench warrants for unpaid costs they have.
“It surprises me that they don’t follow the judge’s order,” Hall said.
Part of their job in the court clerk’s office is to keep up with payment plans.
“They have to go through those monthly to see who’s delinquent and who’s not,” Hall said.
Defendants who don’t pay court costs and fines are slapped with arrest warrants.
Cleveland County has about 5,000 of those outstanding warrants.
Judge Steven Stice came up with Operation Clean Slate.
“It’s just the reality that folks with warrants usually won’t come to the courthouse to take care of their obligations,” Judge Stice said.
So under Operation Clean Slate, defendants can come into Judge Stice’s courtroom, have the arrest warrant waived and come up with a new payment plan.
Judge Stice said arrest warrants are a costly way of collecting this money.
“It takes officers off the streets. It takes court personnel to process this paperwork. The taxpayers have to pay for these folks when they are arrested.”
And some of these defendants have owed the county for years.
One of the bench warrants dates back to 1989, a man who never paid his court costs after being arrested for a DUI.
“The defendant’s never paid a dime. So there are a few of them,” Hall said.
Judge Stice said he’s heard every excuse in the book.
“I don’t know. Nobody told me,” he said.
For Operation Clean Slate, there’s no excuse needed.
“No questions asked. We will recall that warrant and get them back on a payment plan and move forward with a clean start,” said Judge Stice.
The program begins Thursday and Judge Stice will oversee all dockets.
Here are the times and dates for “Operation Clean Slate.”
Thursday, Nov. 1 1-3pm
Nov. 8 1-3pm
Nov. 16 10am to noon
Nov. 29 1-3pm