Clean Slate Gives New Yorkers a Second Chance; Legal Aid Manhattan CDP Participates

The Manhattan Office of the Criminal Defense Practice will participate in Clean Slate, a program sponsored by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office which helps people resolve warrants for low level charges and have a second chance.

Irwin Shaw, Attorney-in-Charge of Manhattan CDP, participated in the press conference announcing Clean Slate with DA Cyrus Vance and others. Clean Slate will be held on Saturday at the Grand Street Settlement beginning at 9 a.m. at 80 Pitt St. in Manhattan.

New Yorkers with outstanding warrants for minor crimes can wipe records clean at Grand Street Settlement event
By Molly Crane-Newman, Lisa L. Colangelo
April 25, 2016

New Yorkers with open warrants for minor crimes will get another chance to wipe their records clean, officials announced Monday.

The April 30 event at the Grand Street Settlement is designed to help people from all five boroughs resolve outstanding warrants for low-level charges that include marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, public urination and littering.

“By closing out these old, minor warrants we hope and believe that it’s a big step towards letting all New Yorkers participate fully in our communities,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who announced the event at a press conference with lawmakers, representatives from the Legal Aid Society and Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Tamiko Amaker.

Despite the minor nature of the offenses, people with outstanding warrants can be arrested and placed in jail for 24 hours while they are they are processed through the system.

“We would much rather do this in a way that is cost effective and we believe fair, rather than have folks come in, get arrested on the old warrant, go through the system and take up the time of judges, prosecutors and court officers,” said Vance.

The first Clean Slate event held last November drew more than 700 people to a Harlem church. Vance said 409 of those cases were cleared with the oldest dating back to 1998.

Hundreds of other people received free legal advice on issues that involved immigration, the Taxi and Limousine Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Judge Amaker said she expects the vast majority of the summons warrants to be vacated and people to receive an adjournment contemplation of dismissal on Saturday.

“As long as the individuals stay out of trouble for six months, the cases will be dismissed," she said.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said 81% of the 7.3 million people who were issued violations between 2003 and 2013 were black and Hispanic.

“This racial disparity makes it that much more unjust when these small offenses snowball into arrest and incarceration,” Brewer said. “We know that low-level nonviolent infractions shouldn’t ruin a life.”

The Clean Slate event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at 80 Pitt St. in Manhattan.

The Lo-Down
Saturday at Grand Street Settlement, You Can Take Care of Old Warrants

Coming up this Saturday on the Lower East Side, there’s a chance for people with outstanding warrants to take care of the legal cloud hanging over their heads.

This morning, District Attorney Cy Vance announced a “clean slate forgiveness event.” A mobile courtroom will be set up at Grand Street Settlement (80 Pitt St.) from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. The DA says the event offers:

…a chance to resolve outstanding summons warrants for disorderly conduct, public consumption of alcohol, unlawful possession of marijuana, and other low-level offenses on-site, without fear of arrest. Clearing these warrants reduces unnecessary case processing in the overburdened court system and provides holders of open summons warrants a fresh start.

A similar event in Harlem last year attracted 700 people. The Clean Slate initiative is not an amnesty program, but many of the cases reviewed following the 2015 event were dismissed. Unanswered summonses can lead to arrests. The Office of Court Administration, the Legal Aid Society and Grand Street Settlement have all partnered for the program.

In an effort to reduce unnecessary arrests for low-level summons warrants, and to provide those with open summons warrants a fresh start, District Attorney Vance is partnering with the Office of Court Administration, the NYPD, and the Legal Aid Society to host Clean Slate, a one-day warrant forgiveness event. The types of summons warrants that can be cleared at this event include:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Public Consumption of Alcohol
  • Public Urination
  • Littering
  • Unlawful Possession of Marijuana
  • Others, including some subway offenses In addition to the outstanding warrant, the underlying summons can also be resolved at this event without fines or other penalties. The presiding judge will issue Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal, or ACDs, which require the recipient to avoid new arrests for six months, before the dismissal and sealing of his or her case. Warrants for felony or misdemeanor charges cannot be resolved at Clean Slate, but Legal Aid attorneys will be present to offer free legal advice in an effort to help individuals resolve such cases. Additionally, Clean Slate will offer a resource fair with job training, healthcare information, and referral services on-site.

Family members are welcome, and free prizes will be given away all day. Open summons warrants from any of the five boroughs can be resolved at this event, regardless of one’s current residence or immigration status. There will be interpreters available on-site to assist Spanish, French, and Mandarin speakers, and translation services for other languages will also be available. Those wishing to clear open summons warrants must bring a photo ID, but it is not necessary to bring the original summons.

DNA info
City Will Forgive Minor Offenses Saturday at 'Clean Slate' Event in LES
By Allegra Hobbs
April 26, 2016

The city will host its second Clean Slate event in the Lower East Side this Saturday at the Grand Street Settlement.

LOWER EAST SIDE — The city on Saturday will give anyone with outstanding warrants for minor, nonviolent offenses a shot at a fresh start with its second-ever "Clean Slate" event in the Lower East Side.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance, along with other elected officials, the NYPD, and the Legal Aid Society will host the warrant forgiveness event on April 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., giving those busted for offenses such as pot possession, public urination and littering a chance to wipe their records clean without fear of arrest.

"A low-level, non-violent infraction shouldn't ruin a life," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who is supporting the event along with councilwomen Margaret Chin, Vanessa Gibson and Rosie Mendez.

The event, taking place at the Grand Street Settlement at 80 Pitt St., is open to anyone with outstanding summons warrants for qualifying crimes in any of the five boroughs, and will also allow attendees who have missed their court dates to resolve the underlying summons without fines or penalties, according to the DA's office.

There will also be other resources such as job training and health care information on-site, and free prizes will be given away throughout the day.

The event will provide interpreters and translation services for non-English speakers.

This is the second time the city has held a "Clean Slate" event — the first event took place last November in Harlem, where 409 summons warrants were dismissed, according to the DA's office.