DC Superior Court to Host Virtual Safe Surrender Program in July for Those with Misdemeanor Bench Warrants

DC Superior Court will host a virtual Safe Surrender program for four days this July.  The event is a joint effort of the Court, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, Pretrial Services Agency, DC Public Defender Service, DC Attorney General's Office, US Attorney's Office for DC, and the Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association.  Safe Surrender is an opportunity for persons who are wanted for misdemeanor bench warrants in DC to surrender voluntarily.  Prosecutors have indicated that they will give favorable consideration to those who participate, in light of their having come forward on their own.  This year's virtual event will allow those with misdemeanor bench warrants to take care of them by logging in from a computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone. 

"We encourage everyone who has a bench warrant in a misdemeanor case to take advantage of this opportunity to surrender voluntarily, rather than be taken into custody by police or marshals at a random time," said DC Superior Court Chief Judge Anita Josey-Herring.  "Participants will be treated respectfully and the matter handled that day, as quickly as possible.  Defense attorneys will be present to represent those who don't have an attorney and prosecutors  have said they will give favorable consideration to those who participate and take responsibility for handling their warrant."

When the pandemic hit DC last year, then-Chief Judge Robert Morin issued an order directing law enforcement not to take anyone into custody on a misdemeanor bench warrant, to avoid their being held overnight in jail.  That order is still in effect, but is likely to be lifted later this year.  In light of that, the Court, working with law enforcement agencies and the defense bar, decided to hold this virtual safe surrender event, to reduce the number of people with misdmeanor bench warrants and allow them to surrender remotely.  The event will take place two successive Fridays and Saturdays:  July 9, 10 and July 16, 17 from 9:30 to 4:30 all four days.  

For those who are not sure if they have an open misdemeanor bench warrant or not, there is a search function on www.dccourts.gov/safesurrender..  The Court encourages people to visit that page, see the Frequently Asked Questions, and register to participate, so they can schedule a day and time for their hearing.  Those people who are unavailable the four days of Safe Surrender, or wish to surrender in advance for other reasons, should contact their attorney or call the DC Public Defender Service (202/628-1200) or defense attorney Anne-MarieMoore at 202/306-6335. 

The Court strongly encourages those interested to register in advance and set the time of the hearing, to expedite the process on the days of Safe Surrender.

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