What is a Desk Appearance Ticket or D.A.T?
Regardless of whether you arrested and charged with Assault in the Third Degree (NY PL 120.00) in Brooklyn, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 155.30) in Queens, or Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon (NY PL 265.01) for possessing a weapon anywhere in New York City, in certain circumstances the NYPDt can issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket or “DAT.” As a result, it is possible to be released from police custody before every seeing a judge or being formally charged, and to remain at liberty while you a await your arraignment. This means that a person would typically be out of police custody in three to six hours instead of being shipped off to central booking, which can be a harrowing experience. Make no mistake, the fact that a person has been given a DAT instead of being taken directly before a judge does not mean that the charge will be taken any less seriously by the DA’s office or prosecutor, and it does not mean that a person should take that time and opportunity to relax and worry about the case later. At bottom, the charges and potential ramifications of a criminal record and to your career are identical.
The authority to issue or give New York City Desk Appearance Tickets instead of processing an accused through The Tombs and central booking, is based in New York Criminal Procedure Law Article 150. In substance, the statutes contained in Article 150 address what a DAT is, who can issue such a notice, and the means by which it is done.
Despite what some people may believe is true, a Desk Appearance Ticket is not a charging document or a “criminal complaint.” Some people may see “ticket” and equate a DAT to a traffic ticket, which is the actual charging document for a traffic-related offense. However, unlike a traffic ticket where a mistake may mean the difference between a dismissal and a conviction, the same cannot be said for a DAT. That is, a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York City is merely a document issued to advise and inform you of a future date in court. If your name is spelled incorrectly, the section of the New York Penal Law is mistyped or there is some other clerical error, the case against has not been impacted in any way. In fact, if you retain counsel to represent you at your arraignment (the first time you see the judge) for your Desk Appearance Ticket charges, the court will provide your attorney with a charging document called a “complaint” or “information” which is the document that actually matters for these purposes. This document may have additional crimes alleged beyond those contained on the papers the police gave you, or entirely different charges.
Whether or not an arresting police officer decides to give you a DAT is essentially their decision, and there is some discretion involved. However, there are rules and guidelines they must follow, and mistakes can be made. Therefore, seeking the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, even when an officer is talking about issuing a DAT, is still advisable. For example, an officer is not required to issue a DAT if the person has open warrants, if the person has failed to appear in court in the last two years, if the person is not willing to give their contact information, if it’s a domestic violence or sexual assault case, if there’s an order of protection being requested, if it’s a crime like a DWI where the court can suspend a person’s driver’s license in connection with the charges, if the person appears in need of medical or mental health care. Unless one of these factors are present, and unless the person is charged with a class A, B, C, or D felony, a person should generally be issued a DAT instead being held in custody for arraignment, which can often result in an overnight jail stay.
For additional information on Desk Appearance Tickets as well as relevant DAT laws, please review the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog Desk Appearance Ticket section. Beyond these resources, Saland Law’s NYDeskAppearanceTicket.com is an additional source of information for those arrested in New York City for misdemeanor crimes.
Call our criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.