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Desk Appearance Tickets - What You Need to Know

You can view an informational video on Desk Appearance Tickets here:

What is a Desk Appearance Ticket?

A desk appearance ticket (or "D.A.T.") is a written notice from a police officer directing an arrested person to appear in criminal court on a future date to be arraigned for an alleged offense. Police officers can give D.A.T.s to individuals who they arrest for certain violations, misdemeanors, and even a few felonies. D.A.T.s are absolutely preferable to "normal arrests" for arrestees because the arrestees that receive D.A.T.s usually only have to spend four-six hours at a police precinct being fingerprinted and processed before they can go home; the alternative to a D.A.T. is to be "put through the system" by the arresting officer, meaning that the arrestee will be forced to wait approximately 24 hours in custody for his or her arraignment (i.e. the first court appearance at which the arrestee is informed of the charges against him/her). Put another way, an arrestee that receives a D.A.T. must appear for his arraignment on the "return date" listed on the ticket, but is at least allowed to go home shortly after being arrested rather than spend the night in jail. This break in time beween the arrest and arraignment also gives the D.A.T. arrestee the added advantage of being able to look for an attorney to appear on their behalf at their arraignment.

Police officers cannot give D.A.T.'s to arrestees without proper identification, and generally do not give them to intoxicated arrestees, arrestees with criminal records, or arrestees charged with domestic violence (those arrestees get "put through the system" as "normal arrests"). D.A.T.s are most commonly issued to first time arrestees charged with marijuana or cocaine possession and shoplifting. Other common charges for which police regularly issue D.A.T.s include unlicensed driving or driving with a suspended/revoked license, possession of forged instruments (such as fake IDs), theft of services, trespass, illegal knife possession and even assault and aggravated harassment. This is hardly an exhaustive list, however. Read more about some of these types of charges on our blog (links appear at bottom).

What are My Charges?

A D.A.T. does not actually charge you with a crime or an offense; that comes when the case is actually "written up" and presented to you in court. What it does include, however, is a charge suggested to the District Attorney's Office by the police department. This charge is often the one used by the prosecuting authority, although it is not always the case. For example, a D.A.T. could contain a suggested charge of PL 165.40 (Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree), but when you arrive in court, you could find yourself charged with the different, albeit equivalent charge of Petit Larceny, PL 155.25.

In order to determine the nature of the suggested charge, look about 6 lines down on the left hand side of the D.A.T. You will see a line that reads, "Top Offense Charged." You can then look it up at the Penal Law site which can be found here.

How is the Desk Appearance Ticket Different From a Regular Arrest?

People who receive D.A.T.s have technically been arrested as they are fingerprinted and processed just like "normal arrests," but those who receive D.A.T.s at least do not have to spend the night in jail (oftentimes for 24 hours or more) awaiting their arraignment before a judge. Otherwise, there are no differences in how the case proceeds after arraignment, and the ultimate penalties - including criminal convictions and potentially jail or probation - can be just as severe as they would be in cases that started with "normal arrests". Since the penalties for D.A.T.s can be just as severe as "normal arrests," they should not be taken any more lightly than "normal arrests".

What Should I do if I get a Desk Appearance Ticket?

The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer immediately so that you can have representation on your "return date," i.e. 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, which can have serious negative consequences. (Though, in some very limited circumstances, it may be possible to have a lawyer appear on your behalf without appearing personally. Click here to read more on that.) When you and your lawyer show up to court you will probably find out what offense(s) the District Attorney's Office has charged you with and your case will proceed as it would have otherwise proceeded had you spent the night in jail awaiting your arraignment. Thus, you may plead guilty pursuant to a plea bargain on that date, or you may start the long process of preparing for trial on a later date. Note that those offenses on the accusatory document, or complaint, may or may not be the same as the charges that are on the Desk Appearance Ticket. In some cases, however, your case may not be ready to proceed on account of the prosecutor's failure to draft the accusatory document. This is the exception to the rule, but when it happens, you are told by the court that you may leave with the warning that you may be notified of a new "return date" in the future, at which time you will have to appear again.

Do I Have to Hire an Attorney for my Desk Appearance Ticket?

You will need an attorney in order to resolve your case at your return date, and if you are not financially eligible for a public defender - you must prove yourself to be "indigent" to be eligible for a public defender - you will be told to return with a privately-retained lawyer. Even if you are eligible for the assistance of a public defender on account of your indigence, you will not be able to meet with that public defender before your return date, and you will probably not have his/her attention for more than a few minutes at most prior to your appearance in court. Thus, a privately-returned lawyer is required for those that are not indigent, and it is a luxury that may well be worth paying for even if you are indigent.

Why Should I Hire The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo to Represent me on my D.A.T.?

The attorneys at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo are two former Manhattan prosecutors that have successfully handled hundreds of Desk Appearance We Tickets, and we offer exceptional service to our clients. Far more often than not we have been able to successfully resolve these matters without our clients getting permanent criminal records. We also have significant experience working with foreign nationals (who may have significant visa and immigration concerns as a result of their arrest) and FINRA- and other licensed professionals, who often have serious licensing concerns (click here to read more on this subject). Also, in most cases we work for one fixed and reasonable fee, and that fee includes:

  • as much time in our office as you need to understand your case and your options;
  • the appearance(s) in court;
  • assistance obtaining all of the relevant paperwork after the case is over, including Certificates of Disposition from the criminal court clerk and, in the event that your case is dismissed, written confirmation from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services that your matter has been dismissed and the records sealed.

The initial consultation is free. Give us a call to schedule your appointment today.

Read more about Desk Appearance Tickets on our blog:
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