When you are charged with speeding or any other traffic infraction in New York, you are handed a ticket or summons, formally called a uniform traffic ticket, or UTT. If you read the fine print on the ticket carefully, you will see that you are entitled to service of a “supporting deposition.” But, what is a supporting deposition, why are you entitled to it, and why would you want to obtain it?
Whenever you are hauled into a traffic or criminal court, the court must have proper jurisdiction over you. What confers jurisdiction to a court is a complaint. A traffic ticket is just that, a complaint. As a complaint, it confers proper jurisdiction the court.
A complaint contains just the bare bones facts on it to identify you, the complaining witness (i.e., the cop who wrote the ticket), the location of the incident, and the charges alleging what law you may have violated. However, in New York State, a person is entitled to be prosecuted not just on a complaint, but on an information. An information contains more details about the incident. An information must, at a minimum, provide enough details about the incident to support every element of the violation, which, if proven to be true would lead to a finding of guilty.
While the complaint, or ticket, confers immediate jurisdiction upon a court, during the prosecution of the case the defendant (i.e., the motorist), is entitled to have the complaint converted to an information. If the prosecution fails to timely convert the complaint to an information then the court no longer has jurisdiction, and the matter must be dismissed.
This is where a supporting deposition comes in. The supporting deposition is the document that converts the complaint to an information. As a motorist, you are entitled to this higher evidentiary for the case to continue against you. However, you must timely demand service of a supporting deposition in order to assert that right. Your failure to timely demand the supporting deposition results in your consent to be prosecuted by complaint only.
Nowadays many police officers serve the supporting deposition roadside and concurrent with issuing the ticket. However, under People v. Wagschal, 2018 NY Slip. Op. 28051 (App. Term, 2nd Dept.), a supporting deposition served roadside does not confer jurisdiction. The motorist is still entitled to demand service of a supporting deposition and, if not served, the case must be dismissed. Furthermore, even when timely served a supporting deposition, it may be defective as a matter of law to confer jurisdiction to the court. Issues of who served it, filing requirement, proof of service requirements, and facial sufficiency can all invalidate a served supporting deposition.
We are a boutique law practice at Palumbo & Associates, PC. We represent motorists throughout NY State and fight speeding tickets, traffic tickets, moving violations, and auto crimes. We realize that receiving a traffic ticket can be stressful and confusing, and you may have questions. When this happens, we are here for you. If you or anyone you know has received a traffic ticket ANYWHERE in NY State, pick up the phone right now and give us a call anytime 24 / 7. Talking to people about their traffic matters is what we do all day every day, and we’d love to answer any questions that you may have.