*Manhattan’s new district attorney Alvin Bragg has ordered his staff to stop seeking prison sentences for a slew of low-level offenses, and to only seek bail in certain cases.
Per Gothamist, Bragg’s office will no longer prosecute people for “theft of services, trespassing (unless it accompanies a stalking charge), aggravated unlicensed operation, routine traffic violations not accompanied by felony charges, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, and prostitution,” the outlet writes.
Bragg said his office “will not seek a carceral sentence” except for cases involving homicide, domestic violence felonies, some sex crimes and public corruption.
“The Office shall not seek a sentence of life without parole,” the memo states.
PBA Statement on Manhattan District Attorney Policy Memo pic.twitter.com/ujydGCy62M
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) January 4, 2022
“This rule may be excepted only in extraordinary circumstances based on a holistic analysis of the facts, criminal history, victim’s input (particularly in cases of violence or trauma), and any other information available,” the memo reads.
“These policy changes not only will, in and of themselves, make us safer; they also will free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime,” Bragg wrote in the memo. “While my commitment to making incarceration a matter of last resort is immutable, the path to get there … will be informed by our discussions … and our work together in the weeks and months ahead.”
Via New York Post:
Bragg’s memo detailed the following instructions for prosecutors to reduce charges filed by cops in various cases:
- Armed robbers who use guns or other deadly weapons to stick up stores and other businesses will be prosecuted only for petty larceny, a misdemeanor, provided no victims were seriously injured and there’s no “genuine risk of physical harm” to anyone. Armed robbery, a class B felony, would typically be punishable by a maximum of 25 years in prison, while petty larceny subjects offenders to up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Convicted criminals caught with weapons other than guns will have those felony charges downgraded to misdemeanors unless they’re also charged with more serious offenses. Criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a class D felony, is punishable by up to 7 years behind bars.
- Burglars who steal from residential storage areas, parts of homes that aren’t “accessible to a living area” and businesses located in mixed-use buildings will be prosecuted for a low-level class D felony that only covers break-ins instead of for more serious crimes. Those more serious crimes, class B and class C felonies, would be punishable by up to 25 and up to 15 years in prison respectively.
- Drug dealers believed to be “acting as a low-level agent of a seller” will be prosecuted only for misdemeanor possession. Also, suspected dealers will only be prosecuted on felony charges if they’re also accused of more serious crimes or are actually caught in the act of selling drugs. That felony would mean facing up to seven years behind bars.
“ADAs should use their judgment and experience to evaluate the person arrested, and identify people: who suffer from mental illness; who are unhoused; who commit crimes of poverty; or who suffer from substance use disorders,” Bragg added.
“Charges should be brought consistent with the goal of providing services to such individuals, and leverage during plea negotiations should not be a factor in this decision,” he wrote.
In a “Day One” letter to staffers, Bragg claimed, “These policy changes not only will, in and of themselves, make us safer; they also will free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime.”
He also pledged that “new initiatives and policies on guns, sex crimes, hate crimes, and other matters will be announced in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, cops are outraged by the move.
“Bragg gives criminals the roadmap to freedom from prosecution and control of our streets,” said the head of the NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association.
“In Bragg’s Manhattan, you can resist arrest, deal drugs, obstruct arrests, and even carry a gun and get away with it,” DEA president Paul DiGiacomo said in a statement.
“Police officers don’t want to be sent out to enforce laws that the district attorneys won’t prosecute,” said Patrick Lynch, president of NYPD’s largest union, the Police Benevolent Association.
“And there are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers and face zero consequences.”