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Understanding Court Summons, Desk Appearance Tickets, and Arraignments

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2018 | Criminal Defense |

Brooklyn criminal lawyer arrest arraignment

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in New York City, you are probably going to hear a lot of terms that you may not understand, such as court summons, desk appearance ticket, and arraignment. If you are facing a minor offense, such as unlawful possession of marijuana, you will typically get a court summons. If you are arrested for a theft offense, you might get a desk appearance ticket. If you are charged with a violent crime, such as rape or murder, you will face an arraignment. Let us explain each of these terms in more depth:

Criminal Court Summons

If the police catch you in possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana in New York City, you have broken a state law–at least until the state broadly legalizes marijuana. Because this is a minor offense, it is classified as a “violation” of the law, not a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime. For a violation, the police will not arrest you and take you to the police station. Instead, you will be issued a pink ticket–a criminal court summons–charging you with unlawful possession of marijuana. The NYPD will also issue a criminal court summons for a violation such as disorderly conduct, trespassing, or carrying an open container of alcohol.

Here are three things you need to know about a criminal court summons:

  1. Being convicted of a violation will not create an entry on your criminal record. Only misdemeanor and felony convictions go on a person’s criminal record.
  2. You must appear in criminal court as directed on the summons. If you do not, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
  3. You cannot go to jail for a violation; the maximum penalty is a fine, typically in the range of $100 to $200.

The Desk Appearance Ticket

Suppose you got caught stealing a $500 purse from a store. Under New York state law, this is the crime of petit larceny, which is classified as a class A misdemeanor. Because this is a misdemeanor crime (not a violation), you will be placed under arrest, taken to the police station, and put through the booking process, which includes being fingerprinted. Then, if the police believe you are not a flight risk, you will most likely be released from the police station with a desk appearance ticket that states when you are to appear in court.


When someone is arrested for a felony crime, such as rape or murder, they will be held in police custody until their arraignment. The arraignment is the first step in a serious criminal prosecution. In New York City, arraignment generally happens within 24 hours of the arrest. The arraignment is a court hearing in front of a judge. The prosecuting attorney states the criminal charges, and the accused person (with the help of their defense attorney) enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. The judge will then decide whether the accused can be released on bail or should be held in jail.

Call a Prominent NYC Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been arrested, exercise your right to remain silent and request a lawyer. As soon as it is possible to do so, call a Manhattan criminal defense attorney to safeguard your rights and provide you with sound legal counsel before, during, and after your arraignment. When you call JOEY JACKSON LAW, PLLC, you get the benefit of over 25 years experience in criminal defense law. Call our Manhattan office at 833-JOEYJACKSON or 833-563-9522.