Westchester County Court
The Westchester County Court is the main court for hearing felony trials in Westchester County. It is distinct from the Westchester Supreme Court, which is the main court for hearing large civil cases (lawsuits), although they share the same building in White Plains. It is also distinct from the village, city and town courts - called lower courts - which may hear other criminal matters.
The New York state court system has several levels of courts that hear different types of cases. In Westchester County, the County Court is the court that generally hears felony criminal trials. However, the city courts may hold preliminary hearings in felony trials, which are called arraignments. The trial itself will then be heard at Westchester County Court. These city courts also hear misdemeanors, traffic offenses and other lesser infractions. This does not include crimes related to minors and families, which go to the Westchester Family Court.
In addition to felony trials, the Westchester County Court may also hear lawsuits too small to go to the Westchester Supreme Court, but too large for small claims. In general, this means disputes over amounts of money greater than $5,000 (the limit for small claims) but no more than $25,000.
If you have a matter in Westchester County Court, you are probably facing serious felony charges. In criminal cases, defendants are entitled to a court-appointed public defender, but unfortunately, these public defenders can have high caseloads that leave little time to give each case their full attention. Many defendants choose to hire private defense attorneys instead, so they feel they have the best possible representation.
If you hire your own attorney, you should choose one who is familiar with the Westchester County Court itself as well as the type of case you have. An attorney who routinely has cases in Westchester County Court will understand the court itself, including the likes and dislikes of the individual judges your case could go before, as well as the rules and practices of the court. This gives them an important advantage over attorneys from other areas. These attorneys may understand New York law well, but they will not have the same experience or personal relationships in the Westchester County legal community. Those connections can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case - and when your freedom is at stake, every advantage matters.
The Westchester County Court is located in White Plains, at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This is in the same complex as the Westchester Supreme Court, the Westchester Surrogate's Court and the White Plains branch of the Westchester Family Court. All courts in Westchester County are part of the Ninth Judicial District, a division of the New York state court system that also includes the counties of Putnam, Duchess, Orange and Rockland. Appeals of decisions in Westchester County go to the Second Department of the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, in Brooklyn.