If you’ve received a summons from a city agency, you are able to plead your case at an with OATH (the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings). OATH functions as New York City’s central independent administrative law court, and is not affiliated with the state court. Summons are filed with oath for many city agencies including the sanitation, transportation, and building departments.
The summons provides the date and location of the hearing. You are allowed to request a reschedule only once, if the given date does not work for you. The electronic request form is available here.
It is important to show up to your hearing. Failing to attend could result in a much larger fine than if you were found guilty after showing up. If left unpaid, a fine gains interest, and it eventually goes into collection with the Department of Finance.
You can plead your case in whatever language you feel most comfortable in, whether through speech or writing. OATH will provide interpretation services for free.
In Person Hearings
Upon entering your hearing location, you will have to check in and complete a Notice of Appearance form. Then you will wait to be called into your hearing. The enforcement agency may send a representative to plead their side of the case. You are able to bring in any witnesses and documents relevant to the case. All hearings are recorded, and you may request a recording here if you are an involved party.
Unlike state criminal courts, there is no right to counsel. Only in-person hearings offer community service in place of a monetary penalty for some violations.
The following are the locations of the in-person hearings in each of the five boroughs:
3030 Third Avenue Bronx, NY 10455
9 Bond Street, 6th and 7th Floors Brooklyn, NY 11201
66 John Street, 10th and 11th Floors New York, NY 10038
21-00 47 Avenue, 3rd and 5th Floors Long Island City, NY 11101
- Staten Island
350 St. Marks Place Staten Island, NY 10301
If you are unable to make it to the physical location, there are four alternatives to in-person hearings. If you are considering one of these alternatives, make sure that the “Respondent must appear in person” box is not checked on your summons. Remember to request a remote hearing from OATH prior to the date of the hearing, as your request cannot be accommodated day-of.
This option gives you the chance to upload relevant documents for your case. However, only three files can be submitted. If this limits you from thoroughly pleading your case, an online hearing is probably not the best option for you.
Call 212-436-0777 to schedule a webcam hearing. Ensure that you are in a location that has a stable internet connection.
You can request a phone hearing online here. You can email OATH any images or copies of documents that you need to plead your case.
Through the Mail
There are several steps you must follow when mailing your defense:
1) Write your defense
2) List your summons number(s)
3) If you’re not the named respondent, state your relationship to them. Also, provide the name of the person who asked you to submit the defense, and their relationship to the named respondent
4) Sign your name, and either notarize, or certify your letter.
Both you and the relevant enforcement agency will be notified of the outcome. The decision may be appealed if either you or the agency does not agree with it. However, before you can appeal, you must pay the sum you have been fined. You must also send your appeal to the agency. If you win the case after appealing, the money you were fined will be refunded.