Brooklyn DA will immediately decline to prosecute some offenses to slow COVID-19 spread

Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 16:05:36-04

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez will "immediately decline" prosecution for low-level offenses "that don't jeopardize public safety" to slow the spread of COVID-19, he said Tuesday.

He also asked defenders to let prosecutors know about people in pre-trial detention who are vulnerable to infection "and who we should consider releasing during this crisis." All non-essential functions in court have been postponed around the state following a Monday order, but arraignments have been allowed to continue.

"During this public health emergency, it is imperative that we also protect those who might be exposed to the coronavirus during the procedures of arrest, processing and detention in Central Booking," Gonzalez said.

According to a memo from Judge Lawrence Marks, judges will exercise discretion to minimize traffic in courts.

"These initiatives are part of our continuing and evolving efforts to assure the operation of the courts in the safest manner for the public and our employees in this time of medical emergency," Marks wrote.