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What it means if you are issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (D.A.T.) in New York City

A Desk Appearance Ticket (commonly referred to as a D.A.T.) is a notice of court date that is given to someone who has been arrested by the police. The only difference between a D.A.T. and any other arrest is that in the case of a D.A.T., the police have made a determination that the person arrested need not be sent to Central Booking and have faith that they will show up in court voluntarily to answer the charges. Before being issued a D.A.T., the person under arrest will still be fingerprinted and photographed. If the arrested person has a lengthy criminal record, history of violence or warrants, it is unlikely that a D.A.T. will be given. Usually, the charges must be misdemeanor or lower to be eligible.

On the date that the person arrested must show up in court, they will be arraigned before a Criminal Court Judge with their attorney present. While the prosecutor can request that bail be set, it is unusual for the Court to do so because the defendant has already demonstrated that they are not a flight risk.

One of the advantages in receiving a D.A.T. is that the person arrested has plenty of time (usually a month or longer) in which they can meet with and hire a criminal defense attorney before they have to go to court. This is important because it will provide additional time to prepare and devise a plan before the case is even docketed in the Criminal Court. Conversely, the District Attorney’s Offices rarely investigate these cases before the return date that is listed on the D.A.T.

Occasionally, the case may not be “ready” on the date that the D.A.T. is scheduled for. The reason that this sometimes happens is that the Criminal Court cannot “docket” a case until they have received both the police arrest paperwork and the District Attorney’s criminal complaint. In the event that these documents are not filed on time, the case will be rescheduled by the Court.

It is important to understand that a D.A.T. will still result in criminal charges being filed. Retaining an experienced attorney with a background in the area of criminal defense is very important in order to secure the best possible outcome of the case. Robert S. Gershon is a former New York City prosecutor, a past President of the local Criminal Bar Association and has been practicing criminal defense since 1996.

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