NYC OATH Violations Attorney
OATH (Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings) is an independent court handling administrative law matters for New York City. The office is among the busiest tribunals in the country considering the variety and quantity of matters they take, including:
If you’re on this page, chances are you’re one of the parties listed above and have received a summons from the OATH office. You should know it’s worth disputing the summons rather than simply accepting it. The attorneys with Feifer & Greenberg can fight your ticket, appear in court on your behalf, and help you avoid costly penalties. With our high success rate, you can trust our NYC OATH violations attorney to deliver a “not guilty” verdict on your behalf.
What is an OATH violation?
The Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers at OATH preside over various NYC law issues independently. While OATH is part of the New York City government, it is separate from various NYC agencies appearing before it. This independence allows them to reach “independent and unbiased conclusions” in the cases filed with OATH. OATH asserts that every party to a matter before it will be given a fair shot and a review based only on the law and facts.
OATH has three divisions tasked with adjudicating city administrative matters: Trials, Hearings, and Special Education Hearings.
OATH Trials Division
The OATH Trials Division handles various issues. Cases include employee and disability issues for civil servants, matters related to vehicles seized by the police, city contract disputes, and zoning and real estate violations. OATH trials are presided over by ALJs (Administrative Law Judges) appointed for five-year terms.
OATH Hearings Division
The OATH Hearings Division hears matters regarding summons issued by 25 different city enforcement agencies for alleged violations. Summonses heard at the OATH Hearings Division might be issued by the Departments of Buildings, Sanitation, Environmental Protection, Consumer and Worker Protection, Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, among others. Hearing Officers conduct OATH hearings. Qualifications to be an OATH Hearing Officer are less stringent than an OATH Administrative Law Judge.
OATH Special Education Hearings Division
The newest of OATH’s three divisions, the OATH Special Education Hearings Division is tasked with resolving disputes between parents of students with disabilities and the New York City Department of Education.
OATH also includes a Center for Creative Conflict Resolution (mediation and support to various agencies and the public) and a Judicial Institute which provides support and training and resources for administrative law judges and other tribunals throughout the city. There’s also an OATH help center to assist self-represented litigants with certain aspects of certain cases.
OATH-related cases we handle in NYC
Traffic Incidents involving pedestrians
At one point in time, enforcement officers were limited to issuing mere traffic tickets for pedestrian-related driving violations from typical fail-to-yield situations as well as situations where there was an accident and even injury or death. Anything short of cases that rose to a more serious criminal offense was sent to the traffic violations bureau including accidents resulting in injury or death.
Eventually, the city realized the traffic courts were incapable of fully and fairly adjudicating these accident cases, and new laws were enacted that allowed enforcement to write tickets answerable to OATH. While these summonses don’t involve points on a license like a typical failure to yield to a pedestrian ticket, they can impact your insurance and any claims or legal matters that might arise due to the accident.
TLC license defense
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is the city agency handling the licensing and regulation of the city’s yellow taxis, services such as Uber and Lyft, for-hire vehicles (car services) and commuter vans and paratransit vehicles. The TLC issues summonses for various issues and requires hearings under many different circumstances.
Emissions from idling gas and diesel motor vehicle engines are known air pollutants and contributors to various respiratory health issues. As such, NYC has regulations against allowing a vehicle to idle (engine running while pulled over) for more than three minutes (or more than one while next to a school).
The Department of Environmental Protection has set up a Citizens Air Complaint program that allows individuals to notify the city of any violations they see and be rewarded monetarily if the case ends with a conviction and a fine due. Fines starting at $1,000 can amount to a significant expense.
Noise “cameras,” also called acoustic cameras, use microphones to measure noises that exceed a certain level. They operate much like a red light or speed camera and shoot stills and video of any vehicle deemed to be in violation. The video is then sent to the Dept. of Environmental Protection to review and decide whether it meets the criteria for a summons to be issued.
With fines starting at $875, this is a significant summons to receive for individuals who are otherwise in compliance with every rule and regulation while driving.
As noted earlier, the OATH hearings and trials divisions handle various issues referred by city agencies. Building, fire, transportation, individuals, and businesses…There’s no shortage of matters answerable to this tribunal.
Why do I need an attorney to fight an OATH violation in NYC?
As with any other legal matter where the consequences are of a certain severity, it is important to handle the matter as efficiently and competently as possible. An attorney who regularly handles OATH matters is more likely to help you achieve the best possible outcome than one would expect to obtain on their own. Understanding the consequences of a summons and the options available for minimizing or eliminating the penalties is important.
How do I find out if I have an OATH violation in NYC?
OATH summonses are either handed to you in person via an enforcement officer or sent to your home or business address via mail. If someone isn’t sure, a search by name and address can be done here: NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing
How do OATH proceedings work?
OATH hearings in New York City typically proceed in accordance with this general overview.
The first step in the OATH hearing process is receiving a notice that will include details such as the date, time, and location of the hearing. It will also include the purpose of the hearing (what the respondent has been charged with) and some documentation or evidence/information relevant to the case.
We know the city agency bringing the charges will be somewhat prepared–this is their job. Of course, you’d want to do some preparation on the respondent’s end too. This might mean reading the charges, consulting with an attorney, and gathering evidence or witness statements.
3. Opening statements
At the beginning of the hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) will typically allow each party to make an opening statement which would be an opportunity to offer a brief outline regarding the arguments they intend to set forth and any evidence they might present.
4. Presentation of evidence
After opening statements, the agency bringing the charges will present their evidence and call any witnesses (if applicable) to support their case.
5. Cross-examination and rebuttal
Following the presentation of evidence by the charging party, the respondent will have the opportunity to present their own evidence, call witnesses (if applicable), and cross-examine the charging party or any witnesses presented. The charging party will then have their opportunity (rebuttal) to cross-examine these witnesses and challenge any evidence the respondent presents.
6. Closing arguments
Once all evidence has been presented and witnesses have been examined, each party will have the opportunity to make closing arguments. During closing, parties will typically summarize their case and highlight key points to support their position.
After the hearing, the ALJ will review all evidence presented and decide based on the facts of the case and relevant laws and regulations. The ALJ’s decision will typically be communicated to both parties in writing at some time in the near future.
8. Appeal process
If either party disagrees with the ALJ’s decision, they may have the right to appeal the decision through the appropriate appellate process.
While this is a general overview of the OATH hearing process, the specific procedures and rules may vary depending on the type of case.
What are the different outcomes in NYC OATH hearings?
Here are some potential outcomes of typical OATH hearings.
If the hearing officer finds insufficient evidence or the charges are invalid, they may dismiss the case, resulting in no penalties or fines for the respondent.
Finding of liability
If the hearing officer determines that the respondent is liable for the alleged violation, they may impose fines, penalties, or other consequences as prescribed by law.
If the respondent is found liable, they may be required to pay fines or penalties. The fine amount can vary depending on the nature of the violation.
In some cases, the hearing officer may order the respondent to take specific corrective actions to address the violation or comply with relevant regulations.
In some instances, parties may reach a settlement agreement before or during the hearing, whereby the respondent agrees to take certain actions or pay fines to resolve the matter without further adjudication. This is often a better option for respondents who aren’t confident their case is heading for dismissal and are concerned about the repercussions of a full conviction of the charge.
Ready to fight your NYC OATH violation? We can help.
Penalties from OATH matters can be severe enough that no respondent should make decisions on how to handle their OATH case before researching their options and understanding what’s at stake. A call to an OATH attorney is a good place to start and Feifer & Greenberg is happy to offer a free consultation to anyone navigating an OATH summons. Feel free to reach out and contact us at your convenience.