- What is a Desk Appearance Ticket or DAT?
- Is Anyone Eligible for a Desk Appearance Ticket?
- Have I been Arrested?
- Is a Summons the Same Thing as a Desk Appearance Ticket?
- I Can't Make It to Court. What Will Happen if I Don't Show Up?
- I Can't Make It to Court. Can My Criminal Attorney Change the Court Date?
- What is an Arraignment?
- Do I Need an Attorney for a Desk Appearance Ticket?
- The Desk Appearance Ticket Has the Wrong Date of the Incident or the Wrong Spelling of My Name. Can Errors Like These Be the Basis of a Dismissal?
- My Desk Appearance Ticket Lists Only One Charge? Can I Be Charged With Additional Crimes When I Go to Court?
If you do not show up to court on the return date listed on your Desk Appearance Ticket, then a bench warrant will likely be issued for your immediate arrest. A bench warrant is an order signed by the court permitting the police to take you into custody and return you to court day or night. This information is placed into a database for law enforcement to view beyond the counties that make up New York City.
While the police may not come knocking down your door, the issues with a bench warrant are obvious. If you are pulled over for a speeding ticket, come flying into the United State from abroad or you are merely detained or stopped for smoking in a public park, if your information is run by law enforcement and your bench warrant "pops," you will be taken into custody. This could mean a nigh in jail. Compounding matters, failure to respond to a Desk Appearance Ticket can result in a new charge of Failure to Respond to a Desk Appearance Ticket (NY PL 215.58).
An arraignment is when you and your New York criminal lawyer go before a judge for the first time. Your criminal defense attorney will plead "not guilty" on your behalf even if you believe you are guilty or have no defense.
After pleading not guilty, the Assistant District Attorney, or prosecutor, will either make you an offer or recommend some type of sentence upon your plea of guilty. If you do not accept the offer or plea (often times the accused will not), the prosecutor will advise you of any "notices." Notices include evidence that the prosecution intends to use against you such as admissions or statements to the police and identifications such as lineups or photo arrays. Moreover, prosecutors will likely indicate what, if any, property or contraband was recovered by you.
After giving the above notices, prosecutors may ask for bail. Obviously, you and your lawyer will ask for little or no bail. Either before the bail request or shortly thereafter, your criminal lawyer will decide what motions, if any, to file. A motion is a memorandum of law presented to the court to challenge the legal basis of the evidence against you, how it was obtained and its sufficiency.
It is important to note that events that transpire at arraignments and decisions that are made there may alter the course of your case. If possible, if you determine that you are going to retain counsel, your criminal lawyer should be present with you at your arraignment.
Whether you decide to retain a New York criminal lawyer is a decision only you can make. If you do not hire an attorney or if you are indigent, for example, you will be assigned a Legal Aid attorney or "public defender" at your arraignment. If the court determines you have the means to hire counsel (whether or not you subjectively believe you do), then you will be required to return to court with a private lawyer.
Although there are many tremendous public lawyers, the "penny wise and pound foolish" mentality can jeopardize your case going forward. If you are first meeting your public defender when you go to court (he or she has will likely have twenty or more other new clients), how will your lawyer corroborate your story? What investigation can he do in the few minutes between meeting you and seeing the judge. Will he or she be able to explain the collateral consequences to a non-criminal plea such as to a Disorderly Conduct. If you do accept a plea (or even if you do not), who will you consult with or talk to weeks or months later? What if an employer or immigration attorney has questions? Who will he or she contact? Because what happens at an arraignment can be critical to a case going forward, are you confident that your public defender will take the same approach to your defense as would your private counselor. Even if so, from a practical standpoint, you could be waiting in court for hours before you see a judge your public defender while your private counsel might be able to expedite your case significantly quicker while keeping you and your family abreast of the process.
In short, an experienced New York criminal defense attorney, as opposed to a public defender or a family attorney not knowledgeable about criminal law, is something you should seriously consider.