When a New York City Desk Appearance Ticket May Be Issued

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman routinely negotiates with state detectives and law enforcement officers for our clients to receive a desk appearance ticket in New York City, or a D.A.T., as a condition of their surrender. Other times, clients have come to us to appear as their representative at their D.A.T. court appearance after having received it either in lieu of or as a result of their arrest. Whether a particular offense or arrest is eligible to be processed as a D.A.T. is one of the more common questions asked of us as New York appearance ticket attorneys. The answer, unfortunately, is that eligibility for a D.A.T. is limited under the law and even when it may be issued, an officer has discretion to forgo a ticket and process the arrest through Central Booking, subjecting you to the substantially longer and much more unpleasant New York City arrest process.

Our experience and knowledge after decades of practicing in New York courts provide us some insight as to when officers will be amenable to issuing a D.A.T. Those arrests that eventually are processed as a Desk Appearance Ticket do tend to share a certain amount of qualities, however.

Significant Factors: Severity of Offense and Resident Status

Desk Appearance Tickets tend to be most often issued to defendants picked up on New York misdemeanors or petty offenses, such as marijuana possession (New York Penal § 221.10) or simple assault (New York Penal Law § 120.00). The issuance of the D.A.T. usually comes after fingerprinting has been performed at the police station. Conversely, if you are picked up for a felony, it is highly improbable police officers will release you with an appearance ticket. While the New York Criminal Procedure Law allows for certain E level felonies to be processed as a D.A.T. in the experience of New York appearance ticket attorneys, it does not happen often.

For similar reasons, New York police officers will generally not issue Desk Appearance Tickets to defendants who happen to be foreign nationals or non-New York residents. In the rare instance they do, however, the arresting officer will usually require some assurance that one’s presence within the state is more than just temporary or short-term. For example, if you are in New York to attend college or graduate school and you are arrested by the NYPD for a misdemeanor, you may receive a D.A.T. and be released at the precinct if you can provide the arresting officer with a verifiable college ID and/or place of residence at a New York City university or graduate school. As a practical matter though, if you do receive a Desk Appearance Ticket under these circumstances, the date designated for your return of the ticket is very likely to be at a time when you are no longer present within the state. Thus requiring you to make the hard choice of whether to incur the added expenses and inconvenience of returning to New York to appear in court or look to retain experienced New York appearance ticket lawyers to work towards resolving the criminal charges during your absence.

Other Factors: Criminal History and Domestic Violence

Besides offense severity and residence status, the other substantial factor that plays into an officer’s decision to process an arrest as a D.A.T. is criminal history. Like offense severity, the reason why officers are hesitant to issue appearance tickets to repeat offenders comes down to flight risk. As all top New York criminal defense lawyers know, individuals with prior criminal convictions face longer jail sentences and a more difficult defense at trial than so-called first-time offenders. As an aside, that is why it is so crucial to make retained counsel aware of your prior criminal history, if any, so that they can prepare an appropriate defense for your case. Regardless of criminal history, however, an arrest made in response to a complaint of domestic violence will never, as required by New York’s “mandatory arrest laws,” be processed as a D.A.T..

If you have recently been arrested in New York City, consider retaining experienced New York City attorneys before the appearance ticket’s return date. Our criminal defense team has experience resolving these cases both favorably and expeditiously and will work with the court and local prosecutors to minimize an out-of-state client’s obligations to return to the state for the charges.

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