Each county manages Desk Appearance Tickets in its own way. In each of the specific county pages contained in this site which you can find by using the menu on the right side of this page, we will attempt to keep updated local information about local Desk Appearance Ticket procedures.

Please note that the details of courtroom procedures are constantly changing in response to various caseload and other pressures on the courts. Standard practice on one day may easily change the next. Therefore, please forgive any discrepancies between what appears in these pages and your actual experience. We will attempt to keep up with the changes as they occur.

Please also note the following general procedures:

As a general rule, you must appear on the date and time ordered by the ticket, and at the location noted. Your failure to appear when and where you are directed by the Desk Appearance Ticket may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

That being said, it is possible, under the right circumstances to adjust the date of the appearance as long as the District Attorney's Office agrees to do this. Typically, the District Attorney's Offices are reluctant to change dates unless exceptional circumstances can be shown. Generally, you will need to engage an attorney to accomplish this since the District Attorney's Offices will generally be reluctant to speak with those who are accused in this context.

It is also possible that an attorney can be engaged to appear on your behalf, if there is a particularly compelling reason for your inability to appear as required. There can be an element of risk in having an attorney appear on your behalf, because it is possible that a judge may be so unpersuaded as to the reason that he or she might issue a warrant for your arrest. Choosing to take this course of action should only be done after carefully considering all the alternatives with your lawyer. That being said, on the occasions in which we have been involved in cases where we sought to appear for our clients on Desk Appearance Tickets, we have not been disappointed. This is not meant to predict any future result, but merely to illustrate that the possibility exists.

If you do not have a lawyer, remember to bring your copy of the Desk Appearance Ticket with you to Court. You will hand this to a Court Officer who will then give you further instructions (usually to sit and wait until your name is eventually called by the public defender).

If you do not have a lawyer, and you believe you would qualify to have a public defender represent you, you would be well advised to bring documentation proving that you are indigent, and therefore unable to afford a lawyer, such as tax returns, to prove your income status. Simply telling the judge that you can't afford a lawyer is unlikely to be persuasive on its own. Judges, being judges, generally like to see proof of the things that people say to them.

It is not necessary to bring witnesses to the court appearance. Witnesses are for a hearing or trial, neither of which will happen on your first appearance on a Desk Appearance Ticket. Your appearance on the record will probably last about a minute or so.

Get there as early as possible, especially if you do not have a lawyer and are applying for a public defender. If you get there late, and it is crowded, it could be a very long day for you. Also, if you get there late, it is theoretically possible that the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest – not a good way to start off your case.


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 718-268-2171.