There is a simple answer to the question posed. A Desk Appearance Ticket is a means to notice a person of a court date. That, however, is only the beginning and does not begin to explain the meaning and importance of the ticket and the process it sets off.
In the State of New York and in particular the City of New York, a Desk Appearance Ticket (D.A.T.) is used for minor criminal offenses. It is a means of ordering the person arrested to appear in court on a date certain and a designated time. One of the advantages of this procedure which is authorized by state law is the relatively quick process. A person is arrested, issued a D.A.T., and sent on their way.In addition to the ticket, the person arrested can provide contact information such as a valid address and phone number so they will receive an additional notice of their court date.
It is important to note that the issuance of the D.A.T. in no way minimizes the seriousness of the underlying criminal charge. The person receiving the ticket is still facing the possibility of penalties as authorized by law for whatever offense or offenses ensue. A person who is issued this type of ticket still needs to seek experienced criminal defense counsel to represent and protect their rights.
The New York City Police Department has a detailed procedure for issuing these tickets. The stated purpose is to not detain the person being arrested. The process of detention is time consuming for the police. It is obviously a bad situation for the person arrested. The D.A.T. works well for all concerned as long as the circumtances meet the police procedure and state law.
This ticket is designed for arrests without a warrant. When a law enforcement officer has an arrest warrant and is serving it upon a defendant, the D.A.T. does not apply. There are many other exceptions that prevent the use of the D.A.T. but this is one of the major ones.
The issuance of the ticket does not automatically mean that the person charged will walk away with only a ticket. The law does authorize a bond or pre-arraignment bail.
As with all bonds or bails, the sum of money is forfeited if the person fails to appear at the time and place stated in the ticket. The law sets maximum amounts for the bail depending upon the offense charged. It is detailed and designed to protect the rights of the defendant and to ensure court attendance.
The D.A.T. is not the legal document charging a person with a criminal offense. It is used for the sole purpose of getting the Defendant into court where they are formally charged with a crime. That does not mean it is not important. Failure to appear in court is alwyas a serious matter. No matter what a person needs to appear in court and be accompanied by a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgable about local law and procedure.
The law enforcement officer involved will file what is known as an accusatory instrument.
This document sets forth the specifics of the alleged crime. It is very important and must meet the legal requirements or it is subject to dismissal. An experienced criminal defense attorney will recognize if it is defective and move to dismiss.
The appearance ticket is the first step in the criminal process. It is not to be ignored. The first thing a person should do upon receiving one is call a criminal defense attorney and make an appointment. When the appointment is made the person should let the attorney’s office know the date, time, and location of the court appearance.
A person served with the ticket may not have the written charges but they are likely to know why the ticket was served and nature of the alleged crime. It is rarely a surprise when a law enforcement officer serves the D.A.T. The person charged needs to convey that information to the lawyer so preliminary steps can be taken to interview potential witnesses and secure evidence. Do not delay. Prompt action is essential in all criminal cases.
A person who arrives in court for the initial appearance with a well prepared and knowledgable attorney is always protected. The court knows that they are taking matters seriously. This article has only touched briefly on the law in Section 150 concerning appearance tickets. A lawyer will know all the specific details of the law and how they apply to each client’s particular case. Do not count on anyone in the courthouse protecting your rights. Have your own advocate who knows what to do with that appearanace ticket.
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