Durkan, city leaders ask Seattle Municipal Court to toss hundreds of misdemeanor warrants

SEATTLE -- Mayor Jenny Durkan is asking Seattle Municipal Court to toss out more than 200 arrest warrants for low-level, nonviolent offenses, mostly for prostitution and driving with a suspended license.

Durkan made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday, joined by City Attorney Pete Holmes, Police Chief Carmen Best and Councilwoman Lorena Gonzales.

"Our system has not been prepared to purge old warrants, so people live fearful that if they’re pulled over an old warrant will be used to detain them," Durkan said. "We’re doing this because we recognize that our criminal justice system has disproportionately impacted people of color, and we want to ensure that our officers can focus on the most violent offenders and protect public safety."

The vast majority of the 208 pre-dispositional and post-conviction warrants are for people charged or convicted of prostitution (107 people) and for driving with a suspended license in the 3rd degree (73 people), which the city says is also known as “driving while poor.”

Other warrants that Durkan is requesting be quashed include graffiti (10 people); attempt to obtain controlled substance (5 people); prostitution loitering (5 people); minor in possession of alcohol (3 people); use of drug paraphernalia (3 people), and park code violation (2 people). No felony offenses are included in the motion.

The warrants are between five and 22 years old, Durkan said.

The city can only ask the court to consider their request. Municipal court administrators and judges will have the final say on whether to throw out the old warrants.

Durkan's office said there's no deadline on when the court will have to make a decision.