Brooklyn DA halts low-level prosecutions due to coronavirus

Eric Gonzalez
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced he would no longer prosecute low-level offenders during the COVID-19 outbreak on March 17.
Photo by Colin Mixson

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez will decline to prosecute low-level offenders that don’t pose a risk to the public in order to reduce the amount of people exposed to coronavirus, according to a Tuesday statement.

“In the interests of public health and safety, and in appropriate exercise of prosecutorial discretion, we will immediately decline to prosecute low-level offenses that don’t jeopardize public safety,” Gonzalez’s statement read.

The offenses Brooklyn’s top prosecutor will no longer take to court include crimes that do not require an order of protection, according to the DA’s spokesman Oren Yaniv, which judges issue to a person who is abusing, harassing, threatening, or intimidating someone.

These crimes could include driving without a license or shoplifting, according to Yaniv, who noted that the office will still assess the need for prosecution on a case-by-case basis.

The spokesman could not immediately provide an estimate of how many cases that would impact, citing the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19.

Last week, an employee of the criminal justice advocacy nonprofit Vera Institute working out of the Kings County Supreme Court building at 320 Jay St. tested positive for the respiratory illness, but the courthouse has remained open, the Daily News reported.