NYC DAs toss thousands of open warrants

- Hundreds of thousands of people who were wanted by the police now have a clean slate. Four of the five district attorneys in New York City vacated warrants for failing to pay tickets for minor offenses many years ago.

In Brooklyn alone, a criminal court judge dismissed 143,532 warrants Tuesday morning to much applause. The acting Brooklyn district attorney said the dismissal of the warrants pose no threat to the public.

District attorneys in the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan did the same. All together they tossed out nearly 645,000 arrest warrants for low-level offenses, including riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, drinking in public, and being in a park after dark.

"After examining this carefully with the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, the New York City Police Department as well as [Office of Court Administration], we have jointly come to a conclusion that it's time that we dealt these old cases and that we dismiss them," Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said, adding that the cases are a burden on the NYPD.

These summons warrants date back 10 years or more.

"I believe that someone who owes a $25 fine should not be arrested and brought down to Central Booking and spend 20, 24 hours in a cell next to a hard criminal," Brooklyn acting DA Eric Gonzalez said. "That's not fair and that not justice."

Public Advocate Letitia James added, "Most of these warrants cover a very dark period in our history and that is the aggressive broken window enforcement period."

Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon did not participate.

"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," McMahon said in a statement.

How will the nearly 700,000 people be informed that their warrants have been dismissed? Not by mail because most of their addresses are no longer valid. Authorities said they are working with the NYPD so that officers will not arrest anyone whose warrant is now vacated. 

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