In NY, different courts are designed to handle different stages of a criminal case. Knowing what type of court your case is currently in can tell someone who is experience with the legal system, how far your case has progressed toward a trial. The legal system can be extremely complicated, and there are many rules which determine which types of cases go to which types of court.
The first thing which determines the court is the seriousness of offense. Some courts will handle misdemeanors while other courts will deal with felony offenses. Misdemeanors are crimes with a maximum punishments of just under a year imprisonment. Felonies, on the other hand are more serious crimes which result in prison sentences of a year or more. There are a number of reasons that the cases are divided into different courts depending on the severity of the offense. For example, less experienced court personnel would probably be put in a court that handles misdemeanors offense until they gain more experience. It wouldn’t make much sense to have a courtroom rookie dealing with paperwork for a first degree murder trial on their first day!
The courts all have different names that show what area of the justice system they deal with. The court that handles all types of misdemeanor offenses is called the ‘criminal court’. This name can be a bit misleading. Most people would think that the criminal court would deal with all types of crimes. However felony offenses are handled by a different court called the ‘Supreme Court’. This is an important fact to remember when you have been charged with a criminal offense in NY.
The Supreme Court
If you have been charged with a felony in NY, then your case will be heard in the Supreme Court. This name is just as misleading as the name ‘criminal court’. When someone hears ‘supreme’ they would think that the supreme court is the highest court. However that is not true. It is the lowest court to hear felony accusations. A conviction for a felony in the Supreme Court can be overruled by other courts, such as the Court of Appeals.
The highest division of courts in New York (NY) are called the appellate courts where they handle all issues regarding criminal appeals. The highest court within the appellate courts is called the Court of Appeals. The only thing that can overturn a ruling in the Court of Appeals is a decree by the United States Supreme Court. It can be confusing, but don’t mix that up with the New York (NY) Supreme Court, where New York (NY) felony cases are handled. If you are looking to make a criminal appeal, then you will end up in one of NY’s appellate courts.