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'Amnesty Day' Aims To Wrap Up Minor Charges

Matt Bush
Blue Ridge Public Radio

This Friday morning, those with outstanding misdemeanor charges and traffic citations in Buncombe County can get their cases resolved.  'Amnesty Day’ at the Buncombe County courthouse  will be held from 9 a.m. to noon.  No one will be arrested at the courthouse if they show up for amnesty. 

Buncombe County district attorney Todd Williams says many of those who could be helped by this have outstanding charges because they failed to show up for court dates previously.  “If you have old process that’s hanging out there, and for whatever reason you’re fearful to come to the courthouse and get it resolved, don’t fear," Williams says.

Amnesty will apply to those with outstanding misdemeanor and traffic charges – no felonies.  Williams says this is a way to help steer people out of the criminal justice system – and also remove legal barriers that might be preventing them from getting jobs or receiving government benefits.  Williams notes in particular, outstanding traffic charges may prevent a person from getting or renewing a driver’s license.  “Amnesty doesn’t necessarily mean a free pass," he cautions.  "There are some charges that might demand prosecution, but we’ll take a case by case look at it.  But amnesty does mean this – come in and talk to us.  We’ll see what we can do.  It’s very possible that we might dismiss the case if it’s old and it’s not something we’re particularly interested in.”

But amnesty in this case only applies to charges that originate in Buncombe County.  Williams says when they did a similar event a few years back, they had a lot of people show up only for them to find out they weren’t eligible because their charges originated in a different county or state. 

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.