Pinellas has 'Homeless Court' for minor charges

Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Instead of counting on transients to show up for court, Pinellas County is bringing the court to them.

Judges, attorneys, paralegals and clerks convened on Saturday the county's second Homeless Court at the Salvation Army.

It's intended for defendants who miss court dates on minor charges, like tresspassing, public urination or possession of open alcohol containers.

When they miss court dates, it triggers a warrant that ultimately means those crimes require jail time rather than simple fines.

About 20 defendants showed up, which disappointed organizers.

Pinellas County Judge James Pierce estimated there were 60,000 active warrants for homeless people who failed to appear on minor charges. Each day they're jailed costs taxpayers $100.

Organizers hope to make the homeless court a monthly event.

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