Today Brooklyn District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez, announced that he had asked the Brooklyn Criminal Court to vacate and dismiss 857 active warrants related to prostitution and loitering for prostitution, which his Office no longer prosecutes.
Gonzalez appeared before Brooklyn Criminal Court Supervising Judge Keisha Espinal to request the dismissal of the 857 warrants, 296 of which were labeled with a top count of prostitution (PL 240.37).
Since Gonzalez began to dismiss warrants of prostitution on Jan 29, 1,119 cases from 1970 to the present have been dismissed. Gonzalez has also called on legislators to “expunge old prostitution-related convictions,” according to his press release.
After the January dismissals in Brooklyn, the New York State Legislature repealed the loitering for purposes of prostitution law in the Bronx and Queens, dismissing outstanding warrants.
“With today’s action, we have cleared all open prostitution and loitering for the purposes of prostitution cases in Brooklyn,” said Gonzalez.
“My Office no longer prosecutes these offenses because we believe that those who engage in these activities should be offered assistance, not criminally prosecuted,” he added.
In addition, someone with an open warrant, who is subject to be arrested at any time, might be driven to working underground and less likely to report abuse and other crimes, said Gonzalez. Outstanding warrants can also come up years after an initial filing in a background check for an apartment rental or job application and damage someone’s attempt to move forward in life.
Gonzalez said that the Brooklyn DA’s Office does not prosecute those arrested for engaging in prostitution, but instead of dismissing their cases, they refer them to services. Since 2020, when the law mandated that those arrested under prostitution receive Desk Appearance Tickets with future court appearances, Gonzalez’s office has sought to connect those arrested with service providers and dismiss the charges before they appear in court. The Office processed fewer than 30 prostitution cases last year.
These services include counseling, medical assistance and checkups, educational services, housing assistance, mental health or substance abuse screening and therapy, and legal assistance.
There are currently 25,575 convictions of prostitution in Brooklyn dating back to 1975. Expunging the two offenses – prostitution and loitering for the purposes of prostitution – “is a legislative prerogative and the District Attorney called on legislators to pass a bill that would do just that.
“I thank the Legislature for repealing the vaguely written and unevenly enforced statute of loitering for the purpose of prostitution and renew my call on lawmakers to expunge past prostitution-related convictions so they will not hold people back from opportunities for a better future,” said Gonzalez.