At the bottom of an appearance ticket or traffic ticket (formal name: Uniform Traffic Information) will be a box telling you where and when to appear for your court date. The location of the ticket can be telling.
If any local town or village court is listed, including Cooper Street in Hempstead, the good news is that you are only being charged with violations, not crimes. The bad news is, depending on your charges, you could face points on your license – potentially raising the cost of your insurance and subjecting you to fees at the DMV, and in extreme cases, loss of your license – in addition to fines. While the stakes are not as high as in a criminal case, it is still worthwhile to speak with a knowledgeable attorney to see if there is a chance of having charges reduced or dismissed. Frequently, an attorney will be able to reduce the overall points you get as a result of these charges.
The two exceptions to the above rule are Glen Cove City Court and Long Beach City Court. These courts can hear misdemeanor criminal cases as well as local violations. If you have a case before these courts, you should speak with an attorney to determine exactly what kind of charges you are facing.
If the return court is Arraignment B in Nassau County First District Court, at 99 Main Street in Hempstead, bad news – you’ve been charged with at least one count that is either a misdemeanor, or a violation under the Penal Law. Less frequently, your date may be set in Arraignment B if you are charged with a violation of the Transportation/Trucking Law or the laws related to fishing/boating. Some common examples of cases which seem traffic related, but wind up in Arraignment B, are driving without insurance, driving without a license or with a suspended license, driving with a suspended registration, or if you had marijuana (PL 221 series) in the car. If you are scheduled for a court date in Arraignment B, you should absolutely speak with a lawyer before your court date.
If your return court is Nassau Second, Third, or Fourth District, you will still be going to 99 Main Street, but to a different court room than Arraignment B. These courts are for local violations which frequently have businesses as the defendant. A lawyer may still provide value for appearances in these parts, as violations can still carry hefty fines.