New York’s court system is layered with many levels and types of courts. New York State has City Courts and the Town and Village Courts which are collectively referred to as Justice Courts.
New York City Courts are limited jurisdiction courts located in cities across the state. These courts can handle misdemeanors and petty criminal offenses (where the punishment would be no more than one year in prison). City Courts can also resolve civil matters of up to $15,000.
Town and Village Courts see more traffic than any other type of court. There are 1,300 locally-funded Justice Courts throughout the state of New York. There are none in New York City, however. Justice Courts have 2,200 judges, and they see nearly 2 million cases per year.
New York’s Town and Village Courts process mainly vehicle and traffic violations, small claims cases of $3,000 or less, landlord/tenant disputes such as evictions, civil lawsuits of $3,000 or less, and some criminal offenses as well. Most criminal cases are for misdemeanors and local ordinance violations. Due to the need for arraignments, Justice Court judges are on-call 24-hours per day. Many of the cases found in Town and Village Courts are small claims which offer a low-cost, simple alternative for resolving disputes.
The NYCourts.gov website offers patrons of City, Town and Village Courts forms for filing cases, an e-filing option, dozens of resources for self-represented litigants, a court locator feature, legal publications and assistance, FAQs for newcomers to the court system and contact information to contact the Court Clerk for any one of the number of courts in New York. Additionally, they have a process to apply to have criminal records sealed through the courts.