Although the New York City Police (NYPD) can easily arrest you and send you to Central Booking for any misdemeanor or “E” felony, in certain circumstances they can, and will, give you a Desk Appearance Ticket (often called a “DAT” or “Appearance Ticket”) instead. While you have still been arrested, whether your criminal lawyer secured this DAT for you or the police were just being reasonable in light of the allegations, you will be sent home after your fingerprints are taken. This blog entry addresses the “white paper” or “white ticket” that you were given and some routinely asked questions about what is contained therein. What is the Physical Desk Appearance Ticket
Before breaking down your DAT or Desk Appearance Ticket, it is critical to understand that it is NOT the complaint or criminal papers that will ultimately be filed against you. Instead, the DAT is a note or document that merely informs you that you must appear in a particular court on a particular date. Should your name, address or even the offense charged be incorrect, it in no way invalidates your DAT. In fact, if you lose the Appearance Ticket it would not adversely impact the prosecution’s case in any way. If you appear in New York City Criminal Court without this DAT, the court staff will locate the official criminal complaint against you. If you do not appear, on the other hand, a judge will likely order a bench warrant for your immediate arrest.
Understanding the Terms and Content of a Desk Appearance Ticket
There is an abundant amount of information that thrown into a New York Desk Appearance Ticket. Practically, speaking, much of it is not relevant to you, but is necessary for the court. One critically important piece information is the “OLBS Arrest-ID” which is found in the top right corner of a DAT just below the title of the document. This number starts with a letter. In Manhattan, for example, it starts with an “M.” The significance of this number is that it is uniquely assigned to your case. If you lose your DAT, but have this number, your case can easily be tracked even if the spelling of your name is incorrect. Further, if there is an issue that you would like your criminal lawyer to address prior to your court date, he or she will need that arrest number when contacting the District Attorney’s Office. Ultimately, once you appear in court, this arrest number is replaced or superseded by a docket number.
Another important piece of information is found on the left side. This is “Top Offense Charged.” As noted above, the crime placed here will be for an “E” felony or a misdemeanor. Keep in mind that there is only a space for one offense. When you go to court, however, prosecutors can and may add additional crimes to the complaint. One of the more common examples is in the shoplifting context where NY PL 165.40 and NY PL 155.25 are usually charged together even though only one crime is placed on the Desk Appearance Ticket.
“At LOC,” located just below the crime you are charged with, indicates the physical court building where you are required to appear. If you are retaining counsel you should make the court building clear. While this seems fairly obvious, some counties, such as Manhattan (New York County) and Brooklyn (Kings County), have community courts in different locations than their larger counterparts. In Manhattan that court is on West 54th Street and in Brooklyn it is located in Red Hook.
What Should You Do With Your Desk Appearance Ticket
If you decide you do not wish to retain counsel, bring your Desk Appearance Ticket to court with you on your appearance date. Usually, the court staff has set up a bin for you to drop off your DAT. Ultimately, if you do not have the means, a legal-aid attorney or other public defender-type counsel will be assigned your case. Because there may be dozens or over even over a hundred cases on in a given day, getting to court early is crucial. If you have assigned counsel, he or she will have an enormous amount of clients to speak with for the first time immediately before seeing the judge.
In the event you retain a New York criminal lawyer, speak with him or her about the process. However, your criminal attorney will likely tell you to wait for him or her to appear and your attorney will hand the DAT in to the court. By doing so you will not be placed with the other defendants waiting to be assigned an attorney. Again, speak to your own counsel about this process.
Do You Need an Attorney for a DAT
That decision is yours to make. Educate yourself on the law. Educate yourself on the crime you are charged with. What are the the collateral consequences of any type of disposition? Will your “public defender” have the time to explain this and have a full understanding of your case in the moments before you see the judge? If you later learn your deal was “bad,” is there any real likelihood that you can withdraw your plea or disposition? Again, educate yourself thoroughly and consider vetting your case with counsel before walking into any courtroom alone.
To learn about the New York Desk Appearance Ticket process in great detail as well as the crimes commonly associated with DATs, please follow the links above or below.
Founded by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent those accused of misdemeanors and felonies throughout New York City and the neighboring counties.