An individual who gets a summons to appear in a New York state court must appear on the hearing date to avoid arrest. They can easily search for their summons through the state's United Court System website. In New York City, individuals can search for a summons from other agencies that are not law enforcement through the independent Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.
What Is a Criminal Summons?
According to MySummons NYC, law enforcement issues a criminal summons or “pink ticket” as a violation for certain laws. Most individuals receiving a summons aren’t fingerprinted or arrested unless they fail to produce identification when requested. A summons is issued for only one offense – if an individual is charged with more than one offense, they get a summons for each.
Depending on what the summons is for, the individual receiving it will either enter a plea by mail or report to the court. They may plea if they receive a summons for Public Urination A.C. 10-125 (b) or Public Consumption of Alcohol A.C. 16-118 (6), and if they have not received any other summonses at the same time.
They must otherwise report in person to the court listed on the summons and have up to one week before the scheduled appearance date to do so. The state of New York does not currently offer pleas by website.
Searching for a Summons in New York State
If a person loses their summons or can’t read an officer’s writing, they can look up their summons online through the state’s Unified Court System website. Summons information is available for several weeks after issuance. Individuals can look up a summons through the:
- Case identifier, which allows a search using a summons or case number.
- Defendant's name, which allows a search using the defendant’s full name or corporation name.
- Court calendar, which allows a search that generates a court calendar by judge or by court.
Adjustments Due to COVID-19
It’s important for individuals to know their appearance date; if they miss it, they can face an arrest warrant. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some information regarding the court’s schedule may not be current online, so individuals who are unsure of the status of their court hearing should ask their attorney or contact the applicable court.
As the courts continue to return to normal operations, they will send out automated email notices to individuals who should follow the information they receive for their court appearance.
Finding a Summons by New York City’s OATH System
The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) is New York City's administrative law court. It is independent and not part of the court system of New York. Individuals who have a summers can search by name, address or the summons number using the agency's Summons Finder.
In New York City, law enforcement is not the only agency to issue a summons. Additional agencies that also issue summonses include:
- NYC Department of Sanitation.
- NYC Department of Buildings.
- NYC Fire Department.
- NYC Department of Environmental Protection.
- NYC Department of Transportation.
- NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
- NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
- NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.
- NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission.
- New York Police Department (NYPD)
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
- NYC Business Integrity Commission.
- NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT).
- NYC Department of Finance
- Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement
Traffic Violations in New York
A traffic ticket given to a driver in one of New York City's five boroughs (Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) is resolved by the Department of Motor Vehicles Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB). The DMV does not have authority over tickets answerable in a local court, parking violations, red light tickets or criminal traffic law violations.
Traffic violations issued outside of New York City in other parts of the state are processed in the traffic or criminal court of the town, village, municipality or county where the infraction took place. The driver who receives the ticket must answer the ticket by pleading guilty or not guilty by the date on the ticket. If they don't, they risk a a loss of their driving privileges, which they can only get back by answering the ticket and paying a suspension fee. A debt collection agency may be contacted if the driver refuses to pay the fines, fees, and surcharges associated with their ticket.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.