Failure to Appear for a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT)
It might not seem like the biggest deal for some, but appearing for a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) in New York is a serious situation. When you’re summoned to appear for a DAT, you must be present at the correct time, in the correct location, and you must not take this lightly. Failing to appear for a DAT results in a warrant for your arrest. What this means is you are going to be arrested anytime and anywhere a police officer finds you and realizes you have a warrant.
If you’re pulled over for driving without a tail light and an officer merely wants to warn you of the situation, you will be arrested if he runs your license and sees there is a bench warrant out for your arrest. If you book an airline ticket to leave the local airport to the Bahamas for your honeymoon, you will be arrested at security when your license is scanned. If you are arrested for anything else, you’ll be arrested and charged with failure to appear for DAT, too. It’s a serious crime, and being present for your DAT hearing is the only way to ensure this does not occur.
What if I can’t appear?
If you are issued a date and time for a DAT hearing, you must be present. If there is a situation that comes up preventing you from appearing, you must try and work through the situation beforehand. You cannot simply fail to appear in front of a judge when summoned and hope you can work through the misunderstanding later. Save for being involved in an accident, delayed getting home at an airport, or the occurrence of a natural disaster, there are very few things you cannot let the court know about ahead of time. Most of the time the court is willing to grant you an extension by rescheduling your DAT so you can be present.
Failing to show up is not an option. If you fail to show up without any notification, you will be issued a bench warrant and arrested the next time your license is used to identify you by a police officer. In addition to being issued a bench warrant, you’ll also have a criminal record and the warrant issued in your name will be on your record forever. A warrant in your name can affect your immigration status, your legal issues, and even your ability to apply for a job. You must notify the court if you simply cannot appear on the scheduled date.
Contact an Attorney
The best way to handle a problem of this magnitude is to handle it before it becomes a problem of this magnitude. If there is a DAT scheduled for you and you cannot be there on the date scheduled, call an attorney. With an attorney on your side, you are able to work through the situation with the attorney backing you up. With a valid reason, the attorney can contact the court and ask for a different DAT date, and it’s highly likely the court will provide you with this new date.
In some cases, your attorney can show up and be there for the DAT hearing on your behalf. This works if there is prior permission granted, but it might also work if there is a last-minute emergency and the court must be notified too late to change the date. For example, if you are pregnant and fail to appear because you went into labor, there is no reason the court cannot allow your attorney to stand in for you or even postpone your hearing until you’re released from the hospital since there’s very little control in a situation of this magnitude.
You don’t know what might constitute a valid reason for missing a DAT until you call an attorney and work with them to discuss your options. If you run the risk of losing your job asking for time off for a court hearing, you could get it moved with the help of your attorney. If you’ll be traveling on the date of your appearance, your attorney might be able to get the date moved. Don’t just miss it. Call an attorney and get permission to miss or have it rescheduled.
Failing to appear is an automatic bench warrant for you, and being arrested for a bench warrant means spending at least one night in jail. It’s not a situation in which you want to find yourself in New York, which is why it’s time for you to call an attorney and rectify this situation before it’s a problem. Handling it in advance is always the wise decision when a court of law requires your presence for an official hearing.
May 17, 2018
Spodek Law is a great firm. They are super pragmatic