Desk Appearance Tickets in New York State in 2019
On April 1, 2019, New York State passed extensive legislative reforms (“2020 Criminal Justice Reforms”) aimed at transforming the criminal legal system and its impact on New Yorkers. Amongst other changes, the reforms (which came into effect on January 1, 2020) now require police in New York State to issue desk appearance tickets (commonly referred to as “DATs” or “universal appearance tickets”), rather than make a custodial arrest for many types of criminal charges. In May 2020, DCJ released a research brief examining the use of DATs across New York State in 2018 to provide a baseline against which the future impact of these changes can be measured.
This report uses 2019 data to examine DAT arraignments and associated appearance rates in New York State district and city courts prior to the implementation of the reforms. In addition, the metrics are disaggregated by charge type, by geographic region (New York City, Suburban New York City and Upstate Cities), and by individual courts. Future research from DCJ will examine the actual impact of the 2020 Criminal Justice Reforms on DAT issuance in 2020. DCJ will also examine how DAT issuance and associated appearance rates have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in New York State.
- DAT vs. Non-DAT Arraignments
- Overall: Statewide, 30.3% of the 264,705 felony and misdemeanor arraignments in 2019 were DATs (80,202 arraignments), 16,000 fewer than in 2018. Over half of DAT arraignments in 2019 were for unclassified misdemeanors (43,236 arraignments), and 43.3% were for class A and B misdemeanors (34,695 arraignments).
- Geography: Suburban New York City (Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau counties) had the largest proportion of DAT arraignments in 2019 (58.0%, 44,583 arraignments), followed by Upstate City Courts (21.8%, 16,521 arraignments), and the New York City (17.1%, 19,098 arraignments).
- Charge Type: Vehicle and Driving charges had the largest proportion of DAT arraignments in 2019 (55.9%, 43,364 arraignments), while only 10.5% of Person charges were arraigned as DATs (4,691 arraignments), primarily assault in the 3rd degree (PL § 120.00).
- Appearance Rates for DAT Arraignments
- Overall: The average appearance rate for DAT arraignments across New York State courts in 2019 was 85.9%. In other words, individuals failed to appear at arraignment in 14.1% of DAT arraignments.
- Geography: Suburban New York City had the highest average appearance rate for DATs (91.4%), followed by Upstate City Courts (85.2%), and then New York City (81.8%).
- Charge Type: DAT arraignments for Vehicle and Driving charges had the highest average appearance rate (92.5%), while Theft of Services had the lowest average appearance rate (74.6%).