A desk appearance ticket, or "D.A.T." as it is commonly referred
to, is a written notice issued and subscribed by a police officer or other
public servant directing you to appear in criminal court in connection
with an alleged offense. It can be issued under certain circumstances
when a person is being accused of committing a violation, a misdemeanor,
or even a limited selection of felonies. Police will generally
not issue a D.A.T. to people who do not possess valid identification, have
an arrest record, or are charged with any domestic violence related offense
or driving while intoxicated. D.A.T.s are more commonly issued to first
time arrestees charged with marijuana possession, shoplifting, and even
So what exactly does the appearance ticket mean? The function of the D.A.T.
is to secure your appearance before a criminal court judge to potentially
face charges for a violation or crime at a future date. People who receive
D.A.T.s avoid being put "through the system," which means they
don't have to sit in jail for roughly 24 hours before being brought
before a judge to be arraigned on charges. The only difference is the
method in which they are brought to court to face the charges, so the
fact that the word "ticket" is involved does not mean that the
situation should be taken likely. The recipient of a D.A.T. still faces
the threat of prosecution for crimes which can result in a permanent record
and even jail, so the end result can be no different than that of the
person who is booked and put through the system.
What should you do if you get a desk appearance ticket? Contact a lawyer
immediately so that you can be represented on the "return date,"
the date that the ticket indicates that you need to be present in criminal
court (failure to show up on the return date will result in a bench warrant
being issued). When you and your lawyer show up to court you will either
find out what offense(s) the District Attorney's Office is charging
you with (which may or may not be the same as the charges that are on
the ticket) OR you may be told that your papers are not ready, which means
the D.A.'s office did not get around to drawing up the complaint,
and you will be told to wait to hear the
next date that you need to come back to court.
If the D.A.'s office has filed charges against you, than you will be
arraigned on those charges and you will be in the same situation as those
who are arrested, booked, and put through the system. Your case may proceed
to trial, or a lawyer may be able to enter a plea to a lower charge on
your behalf, but you will need an attorney present to do all of these things.
Other than the fact that you will need a lawyer to resolve your case if
you end up being formally charged with a crime(s), an added benefit of
being accompanied by a lawyer on your return date is that your case will
be called much more quickly. For example, in Brooklyn criminal court,
there are certain days where all of the D.A.T. matters are heard in one
courtroom. The doors to the courtroom open at 9:30 a.m. and hundreds of
people rush into the room, put their return sheets in a bin and then have
to wait until their case is called in order, which can take all day. D.A.T.
recipients accompanied by lawyers are asked to step up and indicate that
they are already represented. With a lawyer you can almost certainly guarantee
you will not be waiting until 4pm to have your case called.
If you or a loved one has been issued a desk appearance ticket, you should
not hesitate to contact anexperienced criminal attorney who can represent you on your return date and achieve the best possible
outcome for you.
desk appearance ticket,