Acting District Attorney
July 27, 2017
COMMUNITY PARTNER IN JUSTICE NOTIFICATION
Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens District Attorneys Announce
Unprecedented Dismissal of Nearly 700,000 Open Summons Warrants
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, along with Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown yesterday announced that nearly 700,000 summons warrants that are 10 years or older will be vacated in the next few weeks. The warrants in question were issued for failure to pay a ticket for a minor infraction, subjecting individuals to arrest as well as carrying other negative consequences.
The announcement marks an important step in the work of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to clear low-level summons warrants, building upon the Begin Again initiative started by the late DA Ken Thompson in 2015. Begin Again became a model for similar warrant-clearing initiatives by other District Attorney’s Offices around the City.
The dismissal of the warrants poses no risk to public safety as those individuals whose warrants are being dismissed have not been arrested in the past 10 years or their warrants would have been triggered. Furthermore, the warrants stem from summonses issued for minor infractions such as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, drinking beer in public, disorderly conduct, and being in a park after dark.
There are approximately 1.5 million open summons warrants citywide. These summons warrants, when left unresolved, subject those who have them to an automatic arrest when questioned by police on the street or during a traffic stop. They may also carry a number of negative consequences, including impeding one’s ability to apply for citizenship, to secure employment or obtain public housing, and subject undocumented immigrants to deportation.
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I have been working in Brooklyn to build trust between law enforcement and the community, and to focus our resources on violent crime. Dismissing these old warrants is an important step in advancing both of these goals. The bulk of these summonses have been issued to mostly poor, black and Latino individuals, many of whom may not even be aware that they have become open warrants that could trigger an arrest for minor infractions dating back many years. Vacating these warrants enhances public safety and promotes fairness.”
Read the full press release here.