Unlike the justice system in New York City, criminal cases in Rockland County are prosecuted and heard in many different local Justice Courts throughout the various towns and villages in the Count. In Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and throughout New York City, misdemeanors and unindicted felonies are typically heard in centralized Criminal Courts that are akin to the Supreme Court for the particular county where indicted felonies are heard. Rockland County too has a centralized court for heard indicted felonies, called County Court. But rather than a centralized lower court, each municipality throughout Rockland County has its own local court where misdemeanors and unindicted felonies are heard, as well as certain civil cases and traffic infractions such as speeding tickets. These local courts each have their own elected judges, court clerks and other staff, and their own quirks and nuances. Some of these local town and village courts hear cases exclusively in the evenings, some in the mornings, some in the afternoons, some only once per month, some once per week, and others run all day every day. If you are charged with a crime in Rockland County, having an attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of the justice system in the County, and the local procedures and personalities of the many local Justice Courts can have a huge impact on your case.
These local courts are all universally referred to as Justice Courts, but they can go by different titles coloquiolly, such as Nyack Village Court, or Ramapo Town Court. Whatever title the particular court may go by, they essentially all have the same function. These courts handle traffic infraction cases and speeding tickets, they handle misdemeanor cases from arrest to sentence, and they handle felony cases unless and until those cases are indicted and are accordingly transferred to County Court in New City.
This can create a difficult system to manage for any person charged with a criminal offense in Rockland Counrt, for an unfamiliar criminal defense attorney, and even for the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. In light of this, the Rockland DA’s Office has Assistant District Attorneys assigned to one or more of the many local courts who typically handle all of the cases out of that court or courts. These local courts include Ramapo, Airmont, Suffern, Clarkstown which includes New City, Stony Point, Nyack, Upper Nyack, South Nyack, Orangetown which includes Pearl River and Orangeburg, Piermont, the Town of Haverstraw, the Village of Haverstraw, the Village of West Haverstraw, Spring Valley, Montibello, Wesley Hills, New Hempstead, Pomona, Hillburn, and Sloatsburg.
A lawyer who is familiar with the dynamics of this complex system, and the unique practical difficulties and complications this network of Justice Courts can create, will be able to effectively guide you and advise you on the best choices to make throughout the course of your criminal case.
This blog entry is not an attempt to substitute for an examination of your particular case by your own criminal defense lawyer who will determine what is best for your case. Instead, this entry can give you the foundation to better understand the local courts in Westchester County. To better understand crimes, possible defenses, and how you can best protect yourself, consult with your criminal lawyer.