Ransomware Attack Cripples Atlanta Municipal Court and Causes Confusion, Missed Court Dates
You may have heard of the ransomware attack that struck the City of Atlanta in March of this year. This attack, in which hackers demanded that the City pay $51,000 in bitcoin, crippled many of the city’s government offices, and it continues to affect the workings of the Atlanta Municipal Court. According to the City, bench warrants will not be issued for cases that were initially scheduled between March 22nd and April 16th of 2018; rather, the cases will be reset and notices will be mailed out. However, I have spoken to many individuals who have not received notices of their court dates and who are unsure whether they have Failures to Appear (FTA) warrants as a result.
If you believe you have a bench warrant for your arrest due to an FTA from the City of Atlanta, you should first speak to a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney. Bench warrants can be a major inconvenience and can result in license suspension, or even a few days in jail. For information on FTAs generally, see my article here.
In general, the City of Atlanta Municipal Court has set up specific procedures for dealing with Failures to Appear (FTAs). The City of Atlanta has special FTA dockets every day at 8am and 10am. Judge Christopher Ward presides over this docket. Expect to sit in court for a few hours at least. At this hearing, you may clear up the Failure to Appear and resolve the underlying ticket if you wish to plead guilty to the ticket. If you wish to contest the charge or ticket, the FTA or bench warrant may be lifted, but your traffic or criminal case will be reset to a different date for trial. You may receive a fine or penalty for missing your original court date. If you have a valid excuse, you must bring documentation to show the judge. For example, if you were in the hospital, bring proof of your hospitalization. These will be reviewed at the judge’s discretion.
If you have questions about getting an FTA warrant cleared up, legal representation during FTA proceedings, getting your license reinstated after an FTA suspension, or anything else pertaining to a missed court date, click here to call me today.