Questions about the Criminal Justice System?
updated 21 August, 2012
The handbook was designed to help you understand how the criminal justice system works in New York State, but it is not specific to Suffolk District Court.
Recorded information is available at 631 208-5775. Court staff will answer inquiries during normal business hours if you follow the automated prompts.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does the Clerk's Office open for business?
The public windows (located on the 2nd floor of the Cohalan Court Complex) open for business Monday - Friday at 8:30 a.m. All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.
When and where are arraignments held?
Arraignments of defendants "in-custody" (arrested and held by the police) are conducted every day of the year in Courtroom D-11 at 9:30 AM. Arraignments of defendants given Desk Appearance Tickets or Field Appearance Tickets are conducted regular court days in the scheduled "Street Arraignment" (SAP) courtrooms.
When is my next court date?
Your next court date was written on a blue "Notice to Appear" form at your last court date.
If you know the name of the defendant, or the docket number of the case, use WebCrims. This system does not show Bench or Arrest Warrants or finished cases.
To search by name, you need to know at least the first three letters of the defendants last name and the first two letters of the defendants first name. When searching by "calendar," choose "Criminal Court" for Court field, use the courtroom number for Court Part field (for example, D31 or D44), not the Judge Name.
If you think the case is still open, and you cannot find the next date with WebCrims, you should call the court at 631 208-5775 to speak to court staff during normal business hours, or see below regarding vacating warrants.
Can I get a new court date by phone?
No. Adjournment requests are not considered by phone, fax or e-mail.
I really cannot get to court on my court date. What can I do?
Unless the Judge has excused your appearance, you are required to appear at each and every court date. If you do not appear, the judge may issue a warrant for your immediate arrest.
If an emergency requires you to miss your upcoming court date, you may write a letter to the Judge explaining your situation (send a copy to the District Attorney's Office). The Judge may consider your note when your case is called, and may adjourn your case to another day and not issue a warrant. You might be notified by mail of the new court date.
I don't think I can afford an attorney. How can I get Legal Aid?
You may ask the Judge on your court date to assign a Legal Aid Society attorney to represent you. Generally, you are eligible for free Legal representation if you fall below the US Department of Health & Human Services Poverty Guidelines.
How do I find a treatment provider to get screened or assessed for alcohol and drug abuse or dependence?
How can I vacate a warrant?
You may request to voluntarily vacate a warrant by submitting an Application to Vacate District Court Warrant (form DC-320-A) to the Clerk's Office public information windows before 11:00 AM any regular business day. A list (the "warrant vacate" calendar) is posted at the 2nd floor waiting area (usually before noon), and you must appear in the courtroom indicated to vacate the warrant.
If the warrant is for Town Ordinance violation (which are calendared in the outlying District Court courthouses), for County Court, or for a Town or Village Court in Suffolk County, you must go to that courthouse to voluntarily vacate your warrant.
Can I view a Court Calendar online?
Anyone can view today's calendared cases and any future calendars on the WebCrims site. Log in as Guest.
Past calendars are not available to the public on the internet. Other agencies may view completed calendars through our secure site.
What are my rights as a crime victim or witness?
Many innocent persons or their dependents may suffer disability, incur financial hardships, become dependent upon public assistance, or suffer personal physical injury or death as a result of criminal acts. Aid, care and support is provided by the state for such victims of crime, through the Office of Victim Services.
More information about the rights of a crime victim and witnesses ...
What are my rights as a victim of Domestic Violence?
The resources available in your community for information relating to domestic violence, treatment of injuries, and places of safety and shelters can be accessed by calling the following toll-free numbers for the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906 (in Spanish: 1-800-942-6908).
More information about the rights of a victim of Domestic Violence ...
How do I get an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a court order requiring a person to refrain from doing certain acts against another person.
If you are a victim or a witness, you should contact the District Attorney's Office.
In District Court, a criminal action must be filed with the court (which usually means the defendant was arrested or given an appearance ticket, and the complaints were filed with the court by the police). A victim or witness may request an order of protection when the person is arraigned - the District Attorney in the courtroom will need to know before the arraignment that you want an Order of Protection.
If you need an Order of Protection and the person was issued an appearance ticket (released from the police and told to appear on a future date for arraignment in court), get a copy of the police report and complaint from the officer or the precinct, and inform the police that you want an Order of Protection. The police will need to file paperwork with the court before you can get an Order of Protection from the court.
If you need an Order of Protection and the person was not arrested or not charged with any crime or offense, call the police to file a complaint. If you are related to or live with the person, you might be a victim of Domestic Violence.
How can I change the conditions of my Order of Protection?
If you are the defendant (the enjoined party on an Order of Protection), and your case is still pending, and you want to change the conditions of an Order of Protection, you must consult with your attorney.
If you are a witness or victim (a protected party on an Order of Protection), and the case is still pending, and you want to modify the conditions on an Order of Protection, you must contact the District Attorney's Office (See also What are my rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?)
If the defendant was convicted, pled guilty, or otherwise has an order of protection and no future court date, and you want to modify the terms of the order of protection, you may submit a written request to the court - appear at window #2 in room D220 in the Cohalan Court Complex during normal business hours. Based on your written request, the case will be restored to the calendar for a future date, when the judge will decide if the Order of Protection should be modified.
How can I post bail?
Once the Court has set bail, bail must be posted in one of the forms ordered (usually cash or insurance company bail bond), and in the amount set, in order to get out of jail.
A credit card (Visa or MasterCard) may be used to post bail if the Court specifically authorizes credit card bail.
The Sheriff's Office may be able to assist the defendant post bail from money carried at the time of arrest. Bail Expeditors at the jail may be able to help the defendant contact someone to post bail. Family or friends may post bail in the courthouse if the defendant is still in the courthouse. If the defendant is on the way to, or is already at the jail, bail must be posted at the jail.
How do I get bail money back?
Once the court case is disposed (when the case is dismissed, or the defendant is convicted and sentenced), and the defendant made all court appearances as directed, bail is exonerated and returned to the person who posted the bail, minus a 3% fee. The process generally takes eight weeks after the case is disposed and the money is returned. Bail money is returned from the Suffolk County Treasurer.
If the defendant did not appear in court as directed, and a warrant was issued, bail was forfeited. You might be able to get the bail money back if the Court orders the bail remitted after a CPL540.30 motion.
How can I make payment of a fine?
You may pay fines, surcharges, and fees:
- by mail by timely mailing a check or money order payable to the Clerk of the District Court. If your check is not honored by the bank, there will be an additional $20 fee and the immediate entry of a default judgment.
- in person at the courthouse on or before the "to pay" date at window 5, 6, or 7 in room D220 (on the second floor) by cash, check, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard - with photo identification).
Can I get additional time to pay a fine?
Generally, yes. Depending on the sentencing judge, you might need to appear in the courtroom to ask the judge for more time to pay.
What happens if I do not pay the fine or fees?
Generally, if you do not pay the fine or fee, the Court (on behalf of the People of the State of New York) enters a judgment against you in the County Clerk's office and suspends your drivers license.
The court may also issue a warrant for your arrest.
If you do not pay a fine imposed by the court, within the time ordered, you may be imprisoned.
If you are unable to pay a fine, you may ask the court, to be resentenced.
The Court may not waive certain surcharges or fees. You may tell the court that payment of the surcharges or fees will be an unreasonable hardship on you or your immediate family, and the court may defer payment and enter a civil judgment.
You may be imprisoned for up to fifteen days for your failure to pay certain surcharges and fees.
If you do not pay what you owe, or if you do not appear in court to request more time to pay, a civil judgment against you will be entered and docketed with the Suffolk County Clerk (or the Clerk of the County in which you reside), and your drivers license may be suspended, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
How do I get an official record of what happened to my court case?
You might need a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript. You can buy one from the court by coming to the courthouse - bring photo identification, $5, and as much information about the case you can get (case or docket number, date of disposition, offenses charged, date of arrest, copies of charges, etc).
You may also request a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript by mail - follow the instructions on form DC-411.
If the case was sealed, you may need additional paperwork, for example,
- if you were adjudicated a Youthful Offender, you need a Court Order to release the transcript - submit form DC-75 with DC-411 ;
- if your case was terminated in your favor and sealed (like after an acquittal or dismissal), and you want a Certified Transcript of Certificate of Disposition mailed to you, you need to submit form DC-412 with DC-411;
- if the case was sealed after an acquittal or dismissed and sealed, and you want to authorize someone to be your agent to access the sealed records, you need to submit form DC-413 with DC-411 .
How do I appeal?
Within 30 days from the date of sentence, you or your attorney must file 2 copies of a Notice of Appeal with the Appeals Clerk, Suffolk County District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722; and you must serve one copy of the Notice of Appeal on the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Bureau, Cromarty Criminal Court Complex, 200 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY 11901.
If you appeared before the court pro se (without an attorney, self-represented, or on your own behalf), and you timely indicate in writing to the Clerk of the Court (see the bottom of the form DC-16) a desire to appeal, the Clerk will prepare and serve and file an appropriate notice on your behalf.
You have the right, upon proof of your financial inability to retain counsel and to pay the costs and expenses of the appeal, to apply to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, for the assignment of counsel, for leave to prosecute the appeal as a poor person, and to dispense with printing costs.
How do I get a verbatim transcript of a court proceeding?
(A verbatim transcript is a printed version of everything said at a court proceeding. A clerk's transcript of judgment is a court form, usually filed with the county clerk to collect money from a person).
When requesting a verbatim transcript, you should have the
- name of the case,
- case number,
- location of the proceeding, and
- date of the proceeding,
- and time stamp or meter reading of the proceeding (if a digital recording machine was used).
Most court proceedings are recorded either by a Court Reporter sitting in the courtroom writing down what is said in the courtroom or by a digital recording machine.
To have a transcript produced of a District Court proceeding which was recorded by a Court Reporter:
- tell the reporter at the proceeding that you need a transcript, or
- call the court reporters office (631) 208-5695, or
- fax your request to the court reporters office (631) 853-7854 .
To have a transcript produced of an electronically recorded court proceeding, you may contact one of the transcription services listed on the list of Electronic Recording Transcription Services. This list of transcription services may also be found at courthouse public information windows.
These services are not employees of the Unified Court System, they are independent contractors and establish their own rates - price per page varies. They will either take the required information and contact the Court, or ask you to contact the court and arrange to have the recording sent to the contractor.
If you have any questions regarding a verbatim transcript from a Suffolk County District Court matter, contact: the Supervising Court Reporter, (631) 208-5695.
What is a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities and how can I get one?
A certificate of relief from civil disabilities relieves an "eligible offender" of forfeitures, disabilities, or bars to employment automatically imposed be law by reason of a conviction of a specified crime or offense.
You may apply to the State Parole Board (if you are on parole) or the court where you were sentenced for a certificate. More information, including an DPCA-52 Application for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.
How can I get a Criminal History Report?
The New York State Office of Court Administration provides a statewide criminal history record search, based on exact match of name and date of birth. The search includes data from all 62 counties pertaining to convictions and open or pending cases in the City, District, County and Supreme criminal courts. Town & Village criminal information is limited.
If you are a defendant, you or your attorney may apply for a NYS Record Review from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (518 485-7675).
You may request a Suffolk County Criminal Records Search for yourself or someone else through the Suffolk Police Department's Central Records (631 852-6015).
How do I schedule a video conference with a defendant in jail?
Call 852-3356 - the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office.
Attorneys may make arrangements to talk to their clients who are in custody in the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead and the Yaphank Correctional Facility via video conference by calling the Office of the Sheriff at 631-852-3356. Video conferences may be scheduled for either that same day or for a date in the future. The meetings will be scheduled at fifteen minute increments starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 3:45 p.m.
Attorneys interested in video conferencing must go to the Cohalan Court Complex in Central lslip or the Cromarty Court Complex in Riverhead. An attorney scheduled for a video conference at the Cohalan Court Complex should ontact the Court Officer assigned to the fourth floor of the District Court Building in order to gain access to the video conference room. If you are unable to access the video conference room or make contact with a Court Officer dial 853-4630. At the Cromarty Court Complex they should check-in at the clerk's window on the second floor. Attorneys may be required to produce identification and sign a log.
Every effort will be made to produce defendants in as little as one hour; however unexpected occurrences may delay appointment start times and or duration.
lf you have any questions regarding the use of the system or wish to see the facilities which attorneys will be using, please contact Major Len Badia at (631) 853-4630.
How can I waive the production of my client from the jail?
Attorneys of record may request their incarcerated client is produced in court "paperwork only" (the defendant will not be transported
to the courthouse for the court appearance) by faxing the DC-423 form: Notice of appearance and waiver of production to (631) 853-7599.
May students observe arraignments or trials?
When you enter a courtroom, try to get the attention of the Court Clerk or a Court Officer and explain that you are observing for a class project.
Use our automated telephone answering system
Court personnel will answer questions during normal business hours.
These pages are under development. Coming soon ...
Frequently Asked Questions - Town Ordinance violations