NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Veterans and their spouses will have an opportunity Friday, Nov. 17, to address and resolve pending non-violent misdemeanors, traffic citations, or other minor matters.
Fines, court costs and orders for arrest associated with past missed court dates for these offenses will be waived and set aside.
The Operation Clean Slate event will give veterans in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties an opportunity to resolve their cases in a single setting as a gesture of appreciation for their military services.
"This will allow a fresh start and a clean slate for those men and women who have served our nation. This is not a handout. This is a hand up for those who were always willing to go the extra mile and serve their country," Judge Marion Warren, director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, said.
Eligible participants must contact the clerk's office in the county where they have pending cases in order for the proper documents to be present in court in Wilmington on Nov. 17.
Although this operation will be focused on misdemeanors, crimes that snowballed out of control and missed court dates that resulted in high fines, all veterans are welcomed.
"Frequently, someone who misses court for even a minor traffic offense can have this incident quickly snowball into a series of unforeseen events such that they may be arrested or may have their license suspended over a speeding ticket," District Attorney Jon David said. "What started out as a very small thing in their life turns into something far worse. The goal of this initiative is to wipe the slate clean and provide a pathway for veterans to come into our court and deal with minor offenses on their merits."
The idea is for veterans who have pending cases in two or more counties to come to one place and resolve those cases, and a veteran at Thursday's press conference said he can't thank the counties enough for the program.
"This just puts them into a tailspin that for a simple speeding ticket they could've resolved at one of these particular functions," Chairman of the Brunswick County Veterans Coalition Gary Crowden said. "So, we're glad that they have something like this because maybe it might help that vet not commit suicide or (prevent them from getting) an apartment or a job."
District Attorney Ben David said a couple of years ago the program handled just under 100 cases in one day.
He said the public wanted another Operation Clean Slate.
"To the men and women who served our country and to their spouses who serve alongside them, the public servants who are gathered all around me have this to say to you: We are here to serve and thank you," Ben David said. "We can say to our veterans, let's treat it like it happened last night. Let's put this thing back in a courtroom and let's deal with it honestly and sincerely."
Operation Clean Slate will be held at the New Hanover County Courthouse, room 317, Friday, Nov. 17, 2-4 pm.