We have previously discussed the law on Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law Section 120.00), but in our experience, these cases often proceed differently and require a different strategy when they are initiated by Desk Appearance Tickets. A Desk Appearance Ticket (or “DAT”) for Assault in the Third Degree is usually only issued when the arresting police officer thinks that the case should be further investigated by the prosecutor prior to arraignment. Thus, an Assault in the Third Degree via Desk Appearance Ticket often signals to the defense attorney that there may be something suspicious about the underlying proof against the client (so much so that the arresting officer himself was unsure about the guilt of the suspect). Typically, these Desk Appearance Tickets result from complaints made by individuals against people that they know, or from complaints that are made long after the alleged crime, or are issued by police in situations in which it is somewhat unclear to them who might have initiated the fight at issue in the case. On the flip side, these cases can be especially challenging because in cases in which the complainant has a pre-existing relationship with the defendant, we find that the complaining witnesses often have agendas, can be very vindictive and manipulative, and may aggressively demand action from the prosecutor. Therefore, it is important to have a sensible and well-respected attorney to speak rationally to the prosecutor and thereby counter-balance the crazed and forceful demands of the complainant.
In our experience, it is also exceptionally important for people charged with Assault in the Third Degree to hire an aggressive and intelligent defense attorney prior to the arraignment on the Desk Appearance Ticket because the attorney might be able to convince the prosecutor not to pursue the case at all prior to the court date. Sometimes the filing of a cross-complaint against the complaining witness is an appropriate strategy for a defendant in a case like this, as is the proffering of witnesses or the defendant himself prior to the arraignment. Without these sorts of strategies considered prior to the first Desk Appearance Ticket date, a defendant can be virtually assured of having to return to court many many times to resolve the affair. Keep in mind, of course, that Assault in the Third Degree is a serious charge for which jail time can often be a very realistic possibility.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law Section 120.00), you should strongly consider contacting a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors to represent you and to work on your case prior to your arraignment on the Desk Appearance Ticket.