Regardless of the crime or crimes you are charged with in New York County (Manhattan), the arrest process or a desk appearance ticket (DAT) will ultimately land you along with your criminal defense attorney at 100 Centre Street...the nexus of all criminal prosecutions in Manhattan. 100 Centre Street is where you will be taken from a precinct or Central Booking for your arraignment before a Manhattan criminal court judge (on certain occasions a case is arraigned in the Midtown Community Court). If your criminal defense lawyer is unable to resolve your case at your arraignment, whether you are initially charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, 100 Centre Street is where you will return for the immediate future for court appearances.
Elizabeth Crotty and Jeremy Saland, the founding partners at Crotty Saland PC, have walked the halls of 100 Centre Street and 1 Hogan Place (the District Attorney's Office that is attached to the courts) for nearly a combined 20 years as Assistant District Attorneys in Manhattan under Robert Morgenthau and as criminal defense attorneys in New York City. Our experience as prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys has given us a unique perspective having seen and worked in the criminal justice system from both sides. Although we can't share everything in a blog entry, here are some important things you need to know if you are arrested, issued a desk appearance ticket (DAT) or waiting for an arraignment in Manhattan's 100 Centre Street:
(1) Depending on the number of people or "bodies" in the system, you may be at Central Booking or the Tombs for up to 24 hours before you see a judge at 100 Centre Street. If at all possible, it is important to make a phone call to advise family or friends of your situation. If you are able and can contact a criminal defense attorney, your criminal defense lawyer can start trying to move your case through the system by contacting, if applicable, the District Attorney's Office, the police or the court clerks. Moreover, your criminal defense lawyer can come to meet with you. Even if the case is two, four, six or more hours away from arraignment, your counsel can investigate the case if needed and work on moving the arrest process forward. He or she can be your advocate while you are in custody. If you do not get counsel, it is likely that your first contact with an attorney will take place just prior to seeing the judge where you will be assigned a "public defender" who may have a couple or even dozens of other clients that day or evening. Moreover, your assigned attorney will likely have lost hours of establishing your defense having only just met you and his or her ability to investigate your case, corroborate your statements, and meet with your family may be limited. Make no mistake. There are tremendous assigned counsel. However, waiting to meet and confer with them may not only negatively impact your ability to get decreased or lower bail, but also hamper your ability to start building your defense.
(2) Generally, the Department of Corrections and New York State Court System personnel break up defendants by felony and misdemeanor/violation charges. Although the two arraignment courts are both on the first floor of 100 Centre Street, there are separate court parts for misdemeanors/violations and felonies.
(3) It is important to have an arrest number when you go to track a person at 100 Centre Street. If you arrive at 100 Centre Street without an arrest number of a friend or loved one, the clerk on the first floor can determine the defendant's status if you have a at least a full name (a date of birth is beneficial if the person has a common name). If the case has been docketed (the unique number assigned by the District Attorney's Office), they will provide you with that docket number and tell you where to go, i.e., which court room. They can also give you a general idea as to when the case might be called for an arraignment. Remember...be polite! The clerks are doing their jobs and deal with hundreds of inquiries a day.
4) Some other information - 100 Centre Street is located just north of Worth Street and one block east of Lafayette. 100 Centre Street is the location of all the Manhattan criminal courts where misdemeanors are prosecuted. The closest trains to this location is the 6 train at Canal Street or the 4, 5, or 6 train at Brooklyn Bridge / City Hall. 100 Centre Street and 111 Centre Street (across the street) are where felony cases are handled in New York County.
5) A little more "exciting stuff" - When you arrive at 100 Centre Street you have to go through a metal detector. It should be obvious that you should not have any weapon or other contraband on your person. Moreover, if you have a camera it may be held until you leave. If you are going to 100 Centre Street for a morning court appearance at 9:30 you should plan to arrive by 9:00. Lines can be enormous. In the evenings lines are usually insignificant.
Crotty Saland PC is a criminal defense firm representing clients at any hour throughout New York City. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, Crotty Saland PC is located approximately one block from 100 Centre Street and the Manhattan Criminal Court building.