By Don murray, Esq

One issue that frequently arises regarding Desk Appearance Tickets concerns cases where the DAT appearance date is inconvenient for the recipient for one reason or another. Almost inevitably, DAT recipients will be told by an arresting officer that all they have to do is "go to Court" as soon as possible and they will be able "get a new date".

This is absurd. That just isn't how it works. I can't even guess how many stressed out people have contacted me after spending a frustrating day dealing with the court clerks who "for some reason" are acting like they can't give out a new date on the DAT.

The Court clerks can't give out a new date because the Court has no knowledge of the DAT case right away. Therefore, there IS NO CASE TO ADVANCE as far as the Court is concerned.

In some, but not all cases, it is possible for an attorney to arrange with the District Attorney's Office to deal with a Desk Appearance Ticket in advance of the DAT scheduled. This will depend on the District Attorney's Office believing that the reason is good enough as well as the ability of the District Attorney's office to do what needs to be done to create a court ready file by the date required. Advancing a case for the District Attorney's Office involves a certain amount of bureaucratic trouble that they are not obligated to undertake.

Examples of situations in which we have obtained advance dates on Desk Appearance Ticket cases include people who are going into the military or occasionally students who are going a great distance off to college.  Sometimes, especially when people work for New York City agencies such as the Board of Education, or MTA, employees can be suspended simply based on the arrest, even if the relatively simple Desk Appearance Ticket is not likely to result in a job-ending conviction for a crime.  

New York City agencies will sometimes not permit a person to return to work until the matter is fully resolved.  If the Desk Appearance Ticket date is launched out four to six weeks, that means the person is out of a job for four to six weeks and there is nothing to be done, unless the matter can be advanced.  Sometimes, we are able to advance Desk Appearance Tickets in these circumstances.  Run of the mill inconvenience is not often perceived by the District Attorney's Office as a legitimate reason to try to advance a Desk Appearance Ticket.

In order to adjust the date of a Desk Appearance Ticket, you need to deal with the District Attorney's Office. If you are charged with a crime by the District Attorney's Office, they are really in sort of a tricky spot in having dealings with you in the first place.

The reality is that if you need a different date for your DAT appearance, the most likely path to achieve this goal will be if you have your own lawyer. If you are entertaining thoughts of taking the police officer's other advice "to go with Legal Aid" and "not bother hiring a lawyer" then you will likely be out of luck. You are free, of course, to contact The Legal Aid Society and ask them to help you try to advance a Desk Appearance Ticket if you think they will be happy to represent you. Realize that in the event that they choose to deal with you prior to the Desk Appearance Date, they will also be required to assess your financial situation to determine your eligibility for free legal counsel.  Otherwise, your greatest likelihood of advancing the case will be to bring in a private lawyer who can try to arrange it for you.

Other Options

Lawyer Requesting Adjournment in Absence of Client

Another option that we have engaged for many clients successfully is to arrange for our client to sign a written authorization for us to appear on their behalf on the required date and to request that the Court allow a new date to be selected.  Sometimes the Judges will simply adjourn the case, others they will issue a "stayed" warrant for the next date.  A stayed warrant is not really a warrant and doesn't operate like a warrant until the next date if the person fails to appear.

Lawyer Fully Resolving Case in Absence of Client

In some, but not all types of cases, and in some circumstances, we have been able not only to appear for our desk appearance ticket clients, but also to fully resolve the case in the absence of the client.  This requires that the case be of a certain category, and it requires that the Judge at the arraignment agree that the authorization document is sufficient and agree to accept it.  A Judge has the power to authorize resolution by affidavit, but not all Judges like to do it.  In choosing the right sorts of cases to make the attempt, we have had a high rate of success in convincing Judges to allow resolution by affidavit, saving numerous clients the time and expense of traveling back to NYC for the appearance.


Don Murray is one of the founding partners of Shalley & Murray, a New York criminal defense law firm with offices in New York City and Westchester County. Mr. Murray is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has been practicing criminal defense in New York for more than 20 years. Any questions or comments about this article or seeking representation on a Desk Appearance Ticket can be directed to him directly at 347-674-1549.


DAT Lawyer Don Murray, founding partner of the exclusively criminal defense law firm Shalley and Murray, can offer a few solutions to the problem of being unable to appear on the scheduled DAT appearance date.  But timing is often important.  Call us sooner rather than later after getting the DAT to have the highest likelihood of success changing the date. 

Call 347-674-1549 for your free consultation.