Get your public drinking, weed smoking and other minor stuff cleared without being arrested

Photo by Louise Ma/WNYC.

Yeah, you can still get busted for stoop drinking, but at least you can get it cleared easily. Photo by Louise Ma/WNYC.

New York has progressed so far in recent years that getting busted for minor offenses like drinking on the street, smoking weed in front of a cop or taking a nice long post-bar piss in an alleyway fall in the category of “not that bad” punishments (well, if you’re white, at least). At the same time, other things you can still get ticketed for like riding your bike on the sidewalk or letting your dog go off-leash are still as annoying as ever. All of these can compound into a headache of warrants, unpaid fines and general NYPD harassment that could stay on your record for years or eventually get you arrested. These are also the kinds of cases weighing down the overburdened court system and delaying the actually important crimes that need to be handled.

Luckily, there is a way to get your low-level offenses taken care of without too much hassle. This weekend, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is bringing its Begin Again program to Bushwick to give Brooklynites and everyone in the city a chance to deal with summonses for low-level offenses quickly and get a clean record without having to navigate the city’s entire complex legal system. 

Begin Again will be held this Saturday (June 11), from 9am–3pm at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1405 Bushwick Ave.

The event is meant for people who failed to respond to a ticket (ie you forgot to pay or are refusing to pay out of protest/in solidarity with your privilege) and are facing possible arrest, which an officer is forced to do if they come into contact with you (at a traffic stop, for instance).  Inside the church will be a “sanctuary of justice” with attorneys from Legal Aid who will consult on how to resolve warrants or other legal issues. Then you go to a makeshift courtroom, where a judge will clear warrants and dispose of the cases, which means you can go about your life with a clean slate, which is useful for when you seek out financial aid, look for public housing or apply for a job; plus, you won’t be at threat of arrest when you’re walking around the street.

At last year’s event, none of the 2,396 people who attended was arrested and all received consultation within three hours, according to the D.A.’s office. See the full details here.

Pre-register here to expedite your visit.

Qualifying offenses include: 

Drinking Alcohol in Public
Disorderly Conduct
Public Urination
Being in the Park after Closing
Riding a Bicycle on the Sidewalk
Loitering
Unlawful Possession of Marijuana
Trespassing
Spitting
Unleashed dog
Littering
Failure to Have a Dog License
Making Unreasonable Noise
Animal Nuisance
Unlawful Possession of Alcohol (Under the Age of 21)