District Attorneys From 4 Boroughs Vacate Nearly 700,000 Warrants Dating Back 10 Years Or More

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — District attorneys for four of the city’s five boroughs announced Wednesday that they will vacate nearly 700,000 summons warrants that go back 10 years or more.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown made the joint announcement Wednesday.

They said the warrants were for failing to pay tickets for minor offenses, but subjected those against whom they were issued to arrest and other penalties.

The district attorneys said the dismissal of warrants poses no threat to public safety, because the subjects of the warrants have not been arrested in 10 years. If they had been , the warrants would have been triggered, the district attorneys said.

Further, the DA’s said, the warrants were for tickets for such offenses as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, drinking beer in public, disorderly conduct, and being in a park after dark, the district attorneys said.

Vance said in a news release that about 240,000 warrants will be expunged in Manhattan alone.

The Staten Island District Attorney’s office decided not to participate, saying those who were arrested for quality of life offenses need to be held accountable.

“These warrants are given to individuals who have failed to appear in court after being issued summonses for violating that quality of life,” Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said in a statement. “While I have supported holding our Fresh Start events on Staten Island where individuals can take personal responsibility and request that their summons warrant be dismissed, I believe that issuing blanket amnesty for these offenses is unfair to those citizens who responsibly appear in court and sends the wrong message about the importance of respecting our community and our laws.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the effort is one step in a greater criminal justice reform plan.

“After working with DAs for two years on this important criminal justice initiative, we look forward to seeing a final plan from the DAs that reflects our agreement to balance fairness with public safety, and includes carve-outs for those who’ve committed more serious crimes,” de Blasio said in a statement.

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