A New York City law now allows police to classify trial summonses for petty crimes as civil summonses, rather than criminal summonses, allowing citizens to keep clean records while also helping illegal immigrant offenders.
Eight bills, collectively called the Criminal Justice Reform Act, will downgrade some criminal violations. Offenses such as noise violations, littering, public possession of an open container of alcohol, public urination, and being in the park after dark will be penalized with a ticket. The law would also create a system of escalating fines for repeat offenses, and criminal enforcement is possible in “limited circumstances.”
The law, which went into effect Tuesday, was passed by the city council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016. Under the new law, offenders would receive a civil summons, instead of a criminal summons, which means local law enforcement is not obligated to report the offender’s immigration status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to The Daily Caller:
The law would affect cases such as Alejandro Luna, a former gang member and an illegal immigrant caught in central park after dark June 5 who now faces deportation. This would be Luna’s second deportation, the first came in 2006 after he was convicted of home-invasion and robbery. He then illegally entered the country again only to be detained on the June 5 park offense.
Advocates say the law is necessary for young New Yorkers who could be negatively affected by a permanent criminal record.
“A minor nonviolent act of poor judgment should not determine one’s destiny,” de Blasio said when he signed the bill. “Today, we are making sure that key low-level offenses are enforced appropriately — without sacrificing our city’s quality of life or our residents’ safety.”
The change could impact the deportation of illegal immigrants, who were eligible for deportation if convicted of committing crimes, under President Trump’s executive order.
Police officers will continue to have the power to make arrests for petty crimes, but they will be encouraged to use civil penalties.
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