In New York, the police department issues both summonses and desk appearance tickets (DATs) to people accused of crimes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. If you’ve received one of these notices directing you to appear in court regarding criminal charges, you’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney.
I’ve represented clients on criminal charges both large and small for more than 20 years. Working exclusively in New York, I’ve developed in-depth knowledge of the laws and procedures used by the police and prosecutors. I take an honest, open approach to my practice. I’ll give you a realistic assessment of your case and your options, and make sure that you understand your rights and your options. If you’ve received a summons or DAT, contact my office today to learn how I can help you.
A summons or a DAT is an official notice that requires you to appear in court to respond to criminal charges. These are typically issued by a police officer after you have been arrested for a minor crime instead of keeping you in jail. While these are only issued for relatively minor crimes, they are still crimes — and may carry significant consequences.
When my clients receive a summons or DAT, I work to ensure that they get the best possible result for the charged crime. In many cases, that may mean having the charges dismissed. In other cases, it may mean going to trial to get a better deal than what the prosecutor is offering. The key to getting a good outcome on a minor or misdemeanor crime is to have a skilled lawyer by your side. Even smaller crimes can lead to jail time, and a conviction will be part of your permanent record, affecting your ability to get a job, find a place to live and more.
The police can issue summonses and DATs after arresting someone for a minor offense. Usually, they are given to people with no prior criminal history. Typical crimes for which summonses and DATs are issued include:
If you have received a summons or a DAT, you have been charged with a crime. You absolutely should not ignore the summons, and you must go to court on the appointed date, or risk being thrown in jail on a bench warrant. The only exception is if you plead guilty by mail.
Some people wonder if they should hire a lawyer to attend their arraignment on minor charges. The short answer is “yes”. Misdemeanors are crimes. There’s great potential for negative consequences if you’re convicted of a crime.
The crime charged may be minor and the consequences may appear to be minimal. Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor crime leaves you with a criminal record, which can have a life-altering impact on your future. Even conviction of a non-criminal offense can result in consequences that you’d never imagine.
If you don’t hire a lawyer, a court-appointed attorney will stand beside you when you face the judge, advising you with little opportunity to consult with you beforehand. This has the potential to result in a guilty plea that shouldn’t happen.
Furthermore, the summons courtrooms in New York City operate like money mills for the government. Unrepresented defendants in these cases are often bullied or coerced into accepting deals that do not benefit them. Some judicial hearing officers actively encourage unrepresented defendants to quickly resolve their cases with guilty pleas, suggesting that convictions and large fines are the likely alternatives for defendants who demand a trial. These courtrooms actively solicit defendants — without the advice of counsel — to waive the right to have a judge preside over their cases. It’s truly astounding.