If you are charged with a minor crime the police may decide to issue a Desk Appearance Ticket or DAT instead of taking you into the police station for formal booking. This avoids a lot of paperwork and the officer will not have to book you, take mug shots, fingerprints, and transport you to court the next day to see a judge for arraignment.
He will simply take your driver's license and fill out a piece of paper similiar to a traffic ticket advising you where to appear for arraignment. That is why it is important to have proper identification on you at all times. If you do not appear a bench warrant will be issued. This gives you time to retain an attorney to appear with you and possibly have the charges dismissed or reduced to a violation with a fine.
It avoids the need to have your photo and prints returned if the case is dismissed, but if the case is going to go forward the judge will order you to appear at the police station to be booked and mugged. If the case is dismissed your photos and prints will either be returned to you or destroyed, which is important since you do not want the police to have these.
If you are convicted of a crime you will have a criminal record, pay a fine and surcharge, and probably have to give a DNA sample for the state's database. You may also have to be on probation for three years or serve a jail sentence. You will get a conditional discharge and if you are arrested again within a year you will be brought back into court on a violation of the conditional discharge, or VOCD, and be re-sentenced to a possible jail term or community service.
Even though the police gave you a break by not taking you to jail, you can suffer severe consequences if you get a criminal conviction. You could lose visitation rights, government benefits or housing, be suspended from school, lose your job, or find it difficult to get a good job for the rest of your life.
Even minor charges like shoptlifting, harassment, or DWI can have serious consequences if you are convicted of any crime or even a violation.
That is why it is important to call an attorney as soon as you are charged with any crime so that he can do an investigation, find evidence to prove that you are innocent, locate witnesses, and help you to get the best possible results under the circumstances.
If you get a DAT to appear in court call the Law Offices of John J. Carney for a free consultation. We can help you today even if you are not able to pay until tomorrow.