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FOR SPEEDY TRIAL PURPOSES, UNDER ARTICLE 30 OF NEW YORK’S CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW, THE ACTION AGAINST A DEFENDANT WHO HAS BEEN ISSUED AN APPEARANCE TICKET IS DEEMED COMMENCED ON THE DATE DEFENDANT FIRST APPEARS IN COURT AS INSTRUCTED IN THE APPEARANCE TI

In New York, in cases involving non-criminal offenses (violations), misdemeanors and most E felonies, instead of formally arresting the defendant, the police can issue that defendant an appearance ticket directing him to appear in a designated local criminal court on a designated date and at a designated time. [See NY CPL Art. 150].
The date the defendant is instructed to appear in court is referred to as the “return date.” Before, the return date, the officer who issued the appearance ticket is supposed to file or cause to be filed, a sufficient accusatory instrument (the formal papers charging the defendant) with the local criminal court the defendant is supposed to appear in. CPL 150.50(1)].
Sometimes the defendant appears at court as instructed in the appearance ticket only to learn that the accusatory instrument has not been filed (i.e., his “paperwork” is not there). When this happens in some smaller city courts and in the town and village courts, the defendant can spend the whole day waiting for his “paperwork.” In New York City, however, the court will usually give the defendant a notice acknowledging the defendant appeared as instructed in the appearance ticket and either informing him of a new date or that he will receive a new date in the mail.
When a defendant appears in a local criminal court as instructed in the appearance ticket and the accusatory instrument has not been filed as required (i.e., his “paperwork” is not there), the criminal action against the defendant is deemed commenced that day. The commencement date is a critical date for speedy trial purposes. In New York, the prosecution must be ready for trial within a certain time period, which varies depending on the level of the offense. [See NY CPL Art. 30].
The day the criminal action commences is the day the speedy trial clock starts running against the prosecution. Therefore, where a defendant has been issued an appearance ticket, the criminal action commences, thus starting the speedy trial clock, when the defendant first appears in the local criminal court on the date designated in the appearance ticket even if the accusatory instrument has not yet been filed and he is instructed to come back at a later date.
This is set forth in CPL 30.30(5)(b) which states: “where a defendant has been served with an appearance ticket, the criminal action must be deemed to have commenced on the date the defendant first appears in a local criminal court in response to the ticket.” See also People v. Stirrup, 91 N.Y.2d 434, 439 (1998)(“Once a defendant appears in response to a DAT, the criminal action is deemed commenced for ready-trial purposes”).
For more information about this or any other criminal law matter feel free to contact Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at www.tilemandcampbell.com.