Criminal and Civil Summons Court Appearance: Predictors of Timely Response to Summonses for Lower-Level Offenses in New York City

The present study examines court appearance data for written appearance tickets (“summonses”) before and after the implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA) in New York City. The CJRA, a city-level reform which moved the adjudication of some summonses from the criminal to civil courts, provides a unique opportunity to examine an innovative approach to reform of lower-level enforcement and to analyze court appearance for the same set of offenses in two separate contexts (criminal and civil court sites). We examine the role of demographics, offense type, and neighborhood factors on courtappearance. We found that males and adults 35-65 years old were less likely to respond to their summons compared to adolescents (16-17 years old) and females, and that those issued summonses for littering and public consumption of alcohol were less likely to appear than for summonses for public urination, noise, and parks offenses. Our research also finds that living in a neighborhood with high levels of concentrated disadvantage, a proxy for economicresources, reduces the odds of court appearance, and that neighborhood level residential stability is associated with greater likelihood of court appearance. Notably, wedid not find higher rates of nonappearance in a civil courtwherewarrants are not issued for nonappearance, despite prior research suggesting that the threat of a warrant can encourage court appearance. We conclude by suggesting that economic, time, and social resources play a role in court appearance rates. We also encourage more nuancedconsideration of nonappearancefor lower-level offensesas distinct from absconding and other pretrial risks associated with