Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore suggests that the county eliminate warrants for low-level offenses like drug possession for homeless people. According to the chief, many homeless individuals accumulate multiple arrest warrants. When officers encounter a homeless person with a warrant, they must arrest him or her.
Often, the arrests are for low-level offenses. Nearly a quarter of all warrants are for failure to appear in court. Another 10% of warrants are for drug possession. In 2016, police made more than 14,000 arrests of homeless individuals. The number of “homeless” arrests has increased by more than 30% over a five-year period.
Often, the court and public defenders have no way to contact homeless defendants. They miss scheduled court dates, which results in the issuance of a warrant. City attorneys estimate that the system may contain hundreds of thousands of warrants for homeless individuals.
In 2015, San Francisco stopped issuing warrants for no-show defendants, and eliminated 65,000 warrants from their system. Moore is not suggesting that the courts ignore defendants who don’t show up for a court date. Instead, he proposes handling warrants and court appearances differently for defendants who live on the streets.
The City has been experimenting with ways to reduce court appearances by homeless individuals. In a limited program, more than 300 homeless individuals participated in a citation elimination program. As a result, the City eliminated more than 1,000 citations but that’s a small fraction of the number of outstanding citations.
The City hopes to find ways to break the cycle of citations, arrests and jailing of homeless people. According to the city, it puts tremendous stress and expense on the system, while producing little in terms of results.
Los Angeles drug possession attorney
When you have a warrant for drug crimes or other minor matters, hire an experienced drug possession attorney like Robert Helfend. Often people don’t understand the legal remedies available to them. As a result, they risk arrest and detention over matters that could be handled easily by an experienced attorney.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County drug possession case.
Photo Credit: Vi Bella, via Flickr.com