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WHERE A DEFENDANT APPEARS IN A LOCAL CRIMINAL COURT AS INSTRUCTED IN AN APPEARANCE TICKET, THE COURT DOES NOT ACQUIRE JURISDICTION OVER THE DEFENDANT IF AN ACCUSATORY INSTRUMENT HAS NOT BEEN FILED [People v. Stirrup, 91 N.Y.2d 434]

In New York, a police officer can issue a defendant an appearance ticket also referred to as a “Desk Appearance Ticket” or “DAT” instead of formally arresting that defendant where the charge is a non-criminal offense, a misdemeanor or most E felonies. CPL 150.20(1). Before the defendant appears in court as instructed in the appearance ticket, the police officer is supposed to file a sufficient accusatory instrument (the “paperwork”) with the particular court. CPL 150.50(1).
Sometimes the police officer doesn’t file the accusatory instrument in a timely manner and when the defendant arrives in court as instructed in his appearance ticket he learns that his “paperwork” is not ready. In some jurisdictions the defendant might sit around all day waiting for his “paperwork” while in others the court will give the defendant a notice acknowledging his appearance and giving him a new date.
When this happens, while the action against the defendant is deemed “commenced,” [CPL 30.30(5)(b); People v. Stirrup, 91 N.Y.2d 434 (1998)], the court does not obtain jurisdiction over the defendant. A court cannot obtain jurisdiction over a defendant until an accusatory instrument is filed against that defendant. Therefore, the court cannot arraign the defendant nor can it issue an arrest warrant for a defendant who fails to appear in response to an appearance ticket until an accusatory instrument has been filed against that defendant. See People v. Stirrup, 91 N.Y.2d 434, 439 (1998)(court may not arraign a defendant who voluntarily answers an appearance ticket, where no accusatory instrument has been filed; nor may a court issue a warrant of arrest to secure the presence of a defendant to answer the appearance ticket, in the absence of an accusatory instrument).
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.