Many of our clients come to us after being issued Desk Appearance Tickets (“DAT”‘s) charging them with cocaine or other drug possession (the charge is usually “Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree” in violation of Penal Law section 220.03). Most of these clients have just experienced their first arrest and are scared and embarrassed, not only because they’ve been handcuffed and detained for several hours, but because they are currently facing prosecution for a class “A” misdemeanor. The two pressing questions these clients usually have are: “what is going to happen to me” and “am I going to have a permanent mark on my record?” The answer to these questions depends on a variety of factors including the specific facts of the case and the client’s prior arrest history. Obviously, the first step for any person in this situation is to hire a lawyer who is experienced in handling these types of cases so as to avoid incurring any negative marks.
The first inquiry judges and prosecutors tend to make pertains to whether or not this is the client’s first arrest. A person who walks into court with no record will be in a better position to have their case “adjourned in contemplation of dismissal”, meaning the case will be dismissed and then sealed after a period of six months, assuming the client sustains no new arrests during that time. Client’s who receive such adjournments (“ACD”s) are usually required to complete community service or some form of drug treatment. A key benefit to an “ACD” is that there is no allocution (factual admission of guilt) and at the end of the six months the case is dismissed – rendering the arrest and prosecution a nullity. While this is obviously an ideal situation, clients who come into court on their second or third arrests will be less likely to receive such a favorable disposition in their case, and more aggressive steps will need to be taken in order to achieve the same goals. In addition to highlighting a client’s lack of/minimal criminal record, it is also helpful for an attorney to gather information about the client’s employment status, educational background, and any other relevant indicia of good character in order to persuade the judge or prosecutor that the client is deserving of a non-criminal disposition. The important thing to keep in mind is that the facts of every case are different. It’s up to your lawyer to highlight the relevant positive factors when making a solid pitch in order to secure the best positive outcome in any case.
If you or someone you know has been arrested or issued a desk appearance ticket, contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately and set up a consultation so that you can adequately prepare your defense.
(First Time Arrests For Drug Possession in New York)