Frequently Asked Questions About Desk Appearance Tickets Q: Its my first arrest. Is there really the chance of a jail sentence? A: Yes. Anytime you are charged with a crime (even a misdemeanor), there is a risk of jail time. Occasionally, you can be surprised by felony charges when going to court on a desk appearance ticket. This is because the prosecutor can add additional charges or elevate the initial charge. Q: The Cop who arrested me said it is not that serious and the judge will just dismiss it, is this true? A: No. You have to remember that the police work for the City and have no obligation to be truthful or provide accurate legal advice. The NYPD may be hoping you don't hire a good lawyer. Q: Do I need to have a lawyer? A: Yes. Not only is legal representation a good idea, it is generally required. You should also look for a New York City attorney who focuses on criminal law. This is because a lawyer who normally handles wills, family law, or personal injury may not know what to do during your court date or could accidentally give you bad advice. Q: Should we do the consultation by phone or in-person? A: While the phone is an excellent tool for an initial conversation, it is better to discuss something as important and sensitive as a criminal charge in-person. Also, by meeting in-person with your prospective attorney, you will be in a better position to judge his or her knowledge of your rights, possible defenses, and overall ability to defend you Q: How much do you charge? A: Lawyers generally charge a fee based on the time they will spend working on your case. Like many things in life, a talented criminal defense attorney is generally more expensive than a recent law school graduate. We can offer reasonable flat-rates that are based on the complexity of your case and the desired outcome. Please contact us for more information. Q: Will the accuser (the police officer(s), store security or alleged victim) appear in court on the return date? A: No, only you will be appearing in court on the return date listed on your desk appearance ticket. Q: Because the police gave me a Desk Appearance Ticket, does that mean that the case against me is weak? A: No. Desk Appearance Tickets are issued more often now because they save the City money, not because the case against you is weak. Q: What will happen on the court date? A: You will be informed about the charges you are facing, bail may be set, and the case will proceed to litigation. Q: Do I have to worry about bail being set when I appear in court? A: Yes. This is always a possibility and it is better to be safe than sorry. You should speak to a lawyer to learn about the risk of bail being set in your case. If it is your first arrest, the risk of bail is low but the prosecutor will occasionally ask for bail even in a first arrest situation. Q: Can I change the court date? A: Yes, this is sometimes possible but it will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case Q: Is there a way to avoid a criminal record and to get my finger print records and/or arrest photo erased? A: Yes. Depending on the outcome of your case, this may be possible. Contact us at 212-619-3900 for more information. Q: Can I plead guilty by mail? A: No. Unlike certain traffic offenses, you cannot plead guilty by mail. You wouldn't want to either because in many instances, pleading guilty would, at a minimum, give you a permanent criminal record. Call us at 212-619-3900 for more information.