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What is a Desk Appearance Ticket or D.A.T?

Unlike in the past where the police funneled most arrests through Central Booking, New York Desk Appearance Ticket lawyers now have the “luxury” of representing clients with far less concern they will be processed through Central Booking or spend a night in jail. Further, while certain offenses were not eligible prior to 2020, non-violent felonies and misdemeanors are now routinely prosecuted by way of Appearance Tickets, aka, DATs. Assuming the allegation does not involve Domestic Violence or another statutorily prohibited offense, this holds true whether your case is in New York City or even one of many municipalities in Westchester, Rockland or Putnam counties.

Regardless of whether you arrested and charged with Third Degree Assault, Penal Law 120.00, after getting into a bar fight in Manhattan, Third Degree Grand Larceny, Penal Law 155.35, for skimming $15,000.00 from your employer in Brooklyn, Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Penal Law 265.01(1), for inadvertently going through TSA security at Queens’ JFK Airport with brass knuckles in your bag, or Theft of Services, Penal Law 165.15, for failing to pay your cab driver anywhere in NYC, expect that the NYPD, Port Authority Police or other similar agency will issue you a DAT. Simply, White Collar Crimes, Property Crimes and certain Violent Crimes may all be prosecuted in this manner.

What is an Appearance Ticket?

Despite what some people may believe is true, an Appearance Ticket is not a charging document or a “criminal complaint.” Some people may see equate a DAT to a traffic ticket, but the latter is the actual accusatory instrument for a traffic-related offense while the former is not. Unlike a traffic summons where a mistake on its face may mean the difference between a dismissal and a conviction, the same cannot be said for a DAT. That is, the document given to you by the police after your arrest is to inform you of a future court date. Period.

If your name is spelled incorrectly, the section of the Penal Law is mistyped or there is some other clerical error, it is of no consequence to the legal proceeding at all. You still need to appear before a judge and face the allegations. Remember, whether you lose this notice to appear or bring it with you to court, when you stand before a judge with your defense attorney for your arraignment know that you may find yourself facing the same, different or additional criminal charges irrespective of what was on your initial paperwork.

What are the Benefits of a DAT?

The benefits are clear. Instead of waiting to see a judge for up to 24 hours, the police can process and release you in a fraction of the time assuming the charged offense allows for this method of arrest and release.

Because your arraignment date may be weeks or more away, you can consult with a defense attorney and take advantage of the time to build your defense. Are there witnesses you need to identify or speak with? Is there evidence, such as a video, you need to preserve? If the crime involves a theft, destruction of property, or a more serious felony, for example, can your counsel arrange for restitution and speak with your accuser to potentially avoid the full brunt of the justice system?

Ultimately, because you have this “grace period,” you can get your proverbial “ducks in a row” to best identify and implement your defense or mitigate your alleged conduct prior to ever seeing a judge or prosecutor.

What are the Drawbacks of a DAT?

Despite the benefits, there are also problems that can arise with a delayed arraignment. For example, if you are a foreign national and leaving New York or the United States, how will you see a judge to resolve your case before you depart? Similarly, what if you reside in Florida, Ohio, Texas or California? Will a warrant be issued if you do not appear and what will happen upon your return? Similarly, if the matter is one that can be resolved with relative ease, how will this pending and open case impact your employment or current job applications as you wait for it to resolve? Will you need to sit tight and wait it out while you jeopardize your employment?

Another issue, and one that should not be lost on you, is that just as you can build your defense during this time, prosecutors can build their case as well. There is a risk that upon arriving in court on a felony charge or even what you believed to be only a misdemeanor, prosecutors may have secured an indictment or simply developed a stronger case.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

Make no mistake, the fact that you were given an Appearance Ticket instead of being held in custody or Central Booking before seeing a judge does not mean the charge you face will be taken any less seriously by the DA’s Office or the court. Equally important, it does not mean that you should take the time between your arrest and arraignment to relax and ignore the charges while prosecutors build their case and you lose valuable time and evidence. At bottom, the charges and potential ramifications of a criminal record and to your career are as grave as they are permanent.

Be smart and properly manage the predicament you find yourself. Let experience, knowledge and advocacy be your guide.

Crotty Saland PC, a New York criminal defense law firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, represents clients accused of illegal conduct in the New York City metropolitan area.

Additional information on the crimes referenced above is available on this website and through the links provided. Further information is available at, another Crotty Saland PC website.

Call our criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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... I was facing a class B felony and potentially tens of thousands in fines and some legit jail time and after hiring Jeremy Saland he obviously struck enough fear into the prosecutors with his sheer litigation might that it was knocked down to a petty misdemeanor and after a few sheckles and a handful of counseling sessions, I will no longer have a criminal record. The offices of Crotty Saland are the Shaq and Kobe of criminal defense in New York City and to even consider another firm is outright blasphemy. I stand by this statement 100% Evan
Let me start by saying how amazing Liz Crotty is! I am a resident of California, who needed representation for my son who received a desk citation while he was visiting NYC. Liz jumped on the case right away; she was very thorough in explaining things to me. She is strictly business too! She went to court on my son's behalf and had his case dismissed. I am forever grateful to her. Seana G.
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