The Orange is the New Black star appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court to answer to counts of assault, attempted assault and harassment.

She stands accused of violently attacking 17-year-old Michelle Cardona on 29 July (15) during an altercation at Polanco's New York City apartment, according to the New York Post.

"Ms. Cardona observed the defendant strike Ms. Cardona about the face and head with a closed fist at least three times, pull Ms. Cardona's hair, and strike Ms. Cardona's arms with the defendant's hands and nails," prosecutors state in the criminal complaint.

It is not clear what sparked the bust-up, but authorities reveal Polanco had invited Cardona over to her place via text message. The altercation left the teenager hospitalised with "bruising and redness to her face, scratches to her arms, and substantial pain".

Polanco declined to comment on the case following her birthday court hearing, but her lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, insists his client is innocent.

"It's a set up to try to get money and it was tape recorded," Lefcourt told reporters. "This young woman (Cardona) was trying to extort her to drop the case. We're confident the charges will be dismissed."

Polanco is due back is court in January (16).