In the 1990’s, New York City began a crack down on crime. This meant that whether you are charged with a low-level crime or a larger one, you were being charged. It doesn’t matter if you’re just riding your bike on the sidewalk, it’s a crime. This led to thousands of needless old warrants over the years.
Old Warrants Dismissed
Recently, there was a blanket dismissal of Six hundred and forty-four thousand and four hundred ninety-four orders. These decade old warrants were low-level offenses. This was an effort to lessen the burden on the justice system, releasing a hold on cases that might only procure smaller fines and community service. A joint effort between Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens District Attorneys; it is an attempt to close in on the gap between police and the communities they serve.
This will be one less obstacle in securing employment as well as housing. The dismissals took a large chunk out of the 1.6 million that was outstanding, though police have stopped seeking violators out. Arrests on old warrants are not a high priority for police and can even be problematic. The time it takes for the hearing and processing makes these fines a wash or a loss. It makes more sense to dismiss the charges of smaller offenses and allow a more fluid path for court cases that need the time of judge and justice.
How Did They Choose Which To Dismiss?
The concern for public safety was still prevalent when considering which old warrants to dismiss. There were so many old warrants still outstanding that there had to be criteria to decide which will remain. The main discerning factor was simple: had there been any other transgressions in the decade since the warrant was issued? Anyone who had received a warrant, but had not had any other offenses in the decade since was chosen to have the old warrant forgiven. While they had the originating offense, it was viewed that they were not a risk of any further offenses. Therefore, it is likely that they made a mistake and aren’t terrible criminals.
Of the people who had old warrants within the decade, it is estimated that 60,000 didn’t qualify for consideration to have them removed. While there had been no notification sent to any of the people who were chosen, there were events held by the attorneys representing the boroughs.
At these hearings, anyone with an old warrant was able to speak to a judge. This would give them the opportunity to remove charges with minimal repercussions, and in some cases dismissal.
There was a borough that didn’t participate in the old warrant dismissal, while the other five welcomed it. Staten Island is considered to have a more conservative public and chose not to take part in the expulsions. It was thought to be unfair to those who had paid their fines and completed their community service, respecting the laws and appearing in court. They thought it would send the wrong message about personal responsibility and respect for the laws and community. While these were minor offenses, the court still requires the perpetrators to appear in court. If you do not show up for court the court will issue a warrant for failure to appear. This is an offense that triggers a warrant and an arrest. You can read more about the code here.
What To Do If You Have An Old Warrant
Not everyone can be so lucky, to have qualified for a blanket action that removes your old warrant. And even if you are, can you risk waiting a decade? If you have an encounter with a police officer while you have an old warrant, they will arrest you. This would be far more expensive than paying for the original offense. Don’t take a chance and end up in a bigger hole than you are now. The sooner you call a criminal defense attorney, the better. They can advise you on how to go about removing that warrant and moving on with your life.
Old warrants can come back to haunt you. They are just as much a problem as newer ones. You don’t want to forget about that ticket you didn’t pay and end up jailed for it some years later. This can cause problems for you at work and may even cost you your job. Being without money and in jail is nothing to be frivolous about. Take care of any warrants you have immediately. It will be one less thing for you to worry about and one less danger to your freedom. You don’t want to worry every time you see a police officer or take your eyes off the speedometer.