Laurens County, SC (WSPA) – Sheriff’s offices across the Upstate were forced to recall nearly 25,000 bench warrants after South Carolina Chief Justice Don Beatty stated that suspects weren’t being given their due process.
Those low level offenders are off the hook for crimes they were found guilty of in their absence in magistrate court.
Delma Vaughn filed a police report in Laurens that led to charges for Mary Elaine Sizemore.
Sizemore was charged with unlawful use of a telephone after being accused of harassment.
Vaughn says she went to court three times, but Sizemore never showed up.
Sizemore was tried in her absence in magistrate court and found guilty.
A bench warrant was issued and two weeks later Sizemore was booked in Greenwood for threatening to blow up a jail.
She stayed in custody until the end of November, but instead of being transferred to Laurens County, she was released.
Sizemore is just one of nearly 2,000 in Laurens County alone who had their warrants wiped clean, leaving victims like Vaughn feeling frustrated.
Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds shares that frustration.
“My guys are out here to put the crooks in jail and help the victims and all this does it put it back in the victims’ faces,” says Sheriff Reynolds.
Right now, there is no deadline as to when the sheriff’s offices have to have their bench warrants removed.
In most cases, the victims and those with bench warrants will be notified that the warrant has been dismissed.