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Open Summons Warrants Can Be Cleared in Brooklyn This Weekend, DA Says

By Nikhita Venugopal | December 3, 2015 7:47am
 A Begin Again event in East New York in September.
A Begin Again event in East New York in September.
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Ian Lyn Photography for the SPCBC Griots Photography Ministry

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — In an effort to purge a heavy backlog of open summonses in the court system, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is bringing the courtroom to the people.

New Yorkers with warrants for minor crimes like drinking alcohol in public, possession of marijuana or walking with an unleashed dog can take care of outstanding or neglected summonses at a pop-up courtroom this weekend.

In most cases, “warrants get vacated and the summons dismissed without a fine,” although there are some exceptions if a straight dismissal is not viable, a spokesman for the DA’s office said in an email.

Thompson's Begin Again program, which was launched in June, will convene Saturday at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, located at 228 Decatur St. in Bed-Stuy from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is open to all New Yorkers who have been issued a summons in any borough. Open warrants, even for low-level offenses, can appear in background checks, affecting applications for jobs, public and affordable housing. 

More than 1,300 summons warrants were vacated this past year through two Begin Again events held in June and September, a spokesman for the DA's office said — 652 in East New York and 675 in Clinton Hill.

Attendees are seen on a first-come, first-served basis but the process can also be expedited by pre-registering here.

Most individuals who have summonses dismissed will leave the courtroom with a letter of final disposition.

Thompson told DNAinfo in September that individuals who come forward with these warrants do not have to fear being arrested. Defense attorneys and a judge will be on hand.

“If someone walks their dog without a leash, and may be forgetful or can’t go to court for whatever reason, then I think that to have that person brought to us in handcuffs is not the best use of resources,” he said at the time.

According to the DA's office, low-level crimes also include disorderly conduct, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, littering, trespassing, loitering, being in a park after hours and spitting. 

Transit-related summons will not be resolved at the event. Legal Aid representatives will be available to discuss more serious charges like felonies and misdemeanors.

The court will hear summonses dated before Nov. 7, 2015.