BLOG from our #ABKLaw Partner Michael Jaccarino, Esq.:
To Arrest or Issue a Summons? A conundrum with huge implications!
Enforcement of low-level offenses in New York City has always been arbitrary and inconsistent. Examples of such offenses are trespass, consumption of alcohol in public, possession of marijuana, being in a park after dark, unlicensed vendor, unlicensed vehicle operator, and disorderly conduct. In NYC, there are a few options for how to deal with low-level offenses – an officer can effectuate an arrest, resulting in either a desk appearance ticket (DAT) or formal arraignment, or the officer may issue a criminal or civil summons. There is NO official guidance on which method is preferred, leaving it entirely up to the direction of the individual officer.
An arrest for a misdemeanor will be handled in the Criminal Court of the City of New York. A Summons will be handled in the Summons Part (SAP) that deals with lesser offenses. This is just the start of the differences between the two. Once ARRESTED, defendants are processed, fingerprinted, and their data is stored in arrest records. They are also held in the precinct for hours and, if not issued a DAT, taken to Central Booking for arraignment before a Judge, where bail may be set. Also, in the SAP Part, there are no prosecutors present, no mandatory court surcharges and no warrants issued if a defendant fails to pay a court-ordered fine. In short, the SAP Part is a much more preferable place to be. However, the issuance of a summons should not be taken lightly.
Many people assume that a pink summons is exactly like a traffic ticket and therefore not necessarily a big deal or something that would require the assistance of a lawyer. This is wrong. While it is true that most pink summons cases end up working out in ways that are not terrible for the clients’ future, there is often more at stake for someone who walks into a Summons courtroom most people realize.
More often than people might expect, the offenses charged in pink summonses are actually CRIMES. That means that if you just went into court and “plead guilty,” you would be pleading guilty to a crime and you would have a criminal record. Call our office to learn more.
Source: NYSBA Criminal Law Newsletter Vol. 16
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