• Case dismissed: Safe Surrender offers non-violent offenders chance to avoid jail time

    By: Q McCray , Monique Valdes


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Non-violent offenders in Orange County could have their cases dismissed if they turn themselves in.  

    The state attorney's office is holding one of two Safe Surrender days on Friday. 

    Only non-violent misdemeanors and traffic offenses from Orange County will be considered. Anyone facing felonies or child support warrants is not eligible.

    Pastor Derrick McRae is hosting Safe Surrender at his Pine Hills church, The Experience Christian Center.

    "I love seeing Orange County go in this direction so that we can make some positive changes in our community," said McRae. "The goal of the system was never to incarcerate. It was to rehabilitate. And so most times we miss that by not having programs in place to get you back in the working environment."

    Instead of being arrested, anybody with warrants meeting criteria set by the state attorney's office can have their cases reviewed and potentially resolved either a small fine, a case dismissal or both. 

    There are thousands of eligible cases in Orange County. 

    "If I could, I would demand that people take advantage of this," said McRae.

    The process is straight forward; the non-violent offender will speak with a public defender who will then clear the case for the offender to go to a judge for a court appearance, which is done through a camera and television. 

    Attorneys want to make it clear that Safe Surrender is not a trick to throw people in jail. 

    Having helped rehabilitate several ex-offenders, Pastor Rollie Murray Jr. has seen firsthand how a criminal record can negatively affect someone's life.

    "First of all, they are labeled. They are labeled as a criminal and that record follows them wherever they go,” he said. 
    The event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Experience Christian Center. Next Friday, the event will be at the Orlando World Outreach Center.


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