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Criminal Law: When the courts will require the long form information

When a person is cited for violating the Vehicle & Traffic Law, the usual accusatory instrument is a “simplified traffic information” — a traffic ticket, in common parlance. Along with a supporting deposition (filed either at the same time, or later, upon the defendant’s timely request), this document is used for traffic offenses. A simplified traffic information may charge either an infraction or misdemeanor, CPL 1.20(5).
A court at times may require that a different document be prepared: a “long form information.” One situation where this may occur is if the initial accusatory instrument is found defective, with the charge being dismissed without prejudice. If a new accusatory instrument is to be filed, it may need to be a long form information, rather than another simplified traffic information, People v. Baron, 107 Misc 2d 59 (App Term 1980); cf. People v. Engeman, 135 Misc 2d 228 (City Ct 1987).
But where the people failed to file a timely supporting deposition, a long form information cannot be used to supersede the simplified traffic information, People v. Kearns, 46 Misc 3d 43 (App Term 2014); People v. Green, 192 Misc 2d 296 (Dist Ct 2002).
Arrest or bench warrant
Where a defendant fails to appear in court as required, the court may issue an arrest warrant, CPL 120.20(1); CPL 1.20(30), see also, CPL 1.20(28) (bench warrant). But the Criminal Procedure Law limits what types of accusatory instruments this applies to. An arrest warrant may be issued with “an accusatory instrument, other than a simplified traffic information …” Thus, an arrest warrant may not issue for failing to appear on a simplified traffic information, including one charging a misdemeanor, such as DWI or Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Vehicle, see Marks, New York Pretrial Criminal Procedure, § 3:13.
In this situation, it appears that a warrant may be issued, but only if a police officer has filed a long form information in lieu of the simplified information.
Where a traffic ticket has been issued and the defendant does not appear in court, the judge may issue a scofflaw notice. To restore the license, a “lift fee” of $70 must be paid, VTL § 503(2)(j-1)(i).
Gary Muldoon is a lawyer and author of “Handling a Criminal Case in New York.” His email address is