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What is a New York City Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT)? HTML view Note

Most violations in New York are treated in a similar manner by the court system. If they are of a certain degree of severity, they result in a traditional arrest and arraignment. Defendants know the severity of charges after an arrest, and this severity pushes them to seek adequate legal representation. Surprisingly, that same level of awareness is not always present with a desk appearance ticket (DAT). These less serious charges often result in a certain level of ignorance and acquiescence. But more importantly, the real-world implications of such charges has been overlooked. DAT tickets must be considered seriously and reviewed/responded to in a timely manner. The consequences of ignoring or downplaying such charges can follow a person for the rest of their life.

DATs are the lesser form of summons that a court can issue. In serious cases, a violator is arrested and held at a county jail until arraignment. At arraignment, they have a habeas corpus hearing. This hearing determines whether they are either released or read their charges, along with the setting of bail or release on a person’s own recognizance. The violator then has to arrive on the court date for a hearing or trial. In the case of a DAT, the incident is usually a misdemeanor such as a traffic violation or disorderly conduct. The low level of intensity means that the court or the officer has determined that the individual involved is not a flight risk, meaning that they do not have to be held or post bail. A DAT includes the courthouse involved and the date by which an offender must show up for their court date. Many lower-level tickets include the ability to pay a fine in lieu of appearing in court. If a person does show up to a DAT court appearance, the appearance often takes less than an hour. The judge will read the charges and the relevant statute, and they will give time for the defense and the prosecution to state their case. Judges will then decide upon the merits of the case and the defendant’s criminal history, and will pass judgment based on these factors.

Due to these lesser restrictions, defendants often view these cases as too simplistic to require a lawyer’s intervention. The cases are seen as easily proven and lawyers are seen as an unjustifiable waste of money. But DAT cases can provide many of the same problems and pitfalls for defendants as other serious crimes. A traffic infraction that adds points to a violator’s license can cost them thousands of dollars in increased insurance fees and fines. Disorderly conduct and public drunkenness can lead to massive fines or even a jail sentence. Even a jail sentence of a few days can lead a person to lose their job and harm a person’s digital reputation by attaching their DAT to their digital profile. The terms of parole often include many actions that a person must proactively take in order to avoid a felony and significant jail time. DAT violations can be unsparing and unforgiving, and they can result in years of headache as well.

These many pitfalls are why DAT tickets are a serious part of the criminal justice system that must be faced by a robust, adequate legal defense. Legal Aid attorneys and public defenders can only help so much. The utmost defense can only be provided by competent, private attorneys. Private attorneys can break down the facts of the case and explore the many legal avenues available to the defendant. There may be numerous plea bargains and lesser charges that could help a defendant avoid jail time. Private attorneys know these many ins-and-outs of the justice system and often have experience dealing with prosecutors.

If you are facing the charges associated with a DAT, familiarize yourself with what the charges are and what they entail. Just because a DAT is not as serious as a manslaughter charge does not mean the ticket should be ignored. Instead, the DAT should be understand and adequately defended against. A private attorney will make sure that you have pursued all available, honest legal avenues. He or she can help you craft your case, manage your court appearance, and otherwise receive the best defense possible. It is up to you to find the best attorney available to help your reach the fairest eventual resolution to your case.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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