In all five counties (or boroughs), the Criminal Court of the City of New York has
jurisdiction over all misdemeanors and violations, as well as the preliminary stages of felony
cases. Each county has its own branch of the Criminal Court.
In the early 1990s, the Criminal Court experienced a substantial increase in its caseload.
In 1993, Criminal Court in all five branches filings totaled 276,401. By 1998, there were
394,428 total filings in the Criminal Court. Thus, filings jumped an astonishing 42% in five
years. In recent years, the total number of filings has slowly declined with 324,679 filings in
2002 and 321,959 filings in 2003.
The New York County Branch
The New York County Branch of the Criminal Court of the City of New York is divided
into multiple parts. There are seven “arraignment parts,” in which defendants are informed of
the charges against them. One of these is located at the Midtown Community Court. There is
also one “Desk Appearance Ticket Part” (DAT part). A police officer who charges a defendant
with a violation may give the defendant a “desk appearance ticket,” which specifies the date and
time that the defendant is to appear in court. These cases are routed to the DAT part.
After arraignment, felony cases are sent to the Criminal Branch of the Supreme Court.
Cases in which the defendants are accused of misdemeanors remain in the Criminal Court, and if
a “not guilty” plea is entered at arraignment, they are usually sent to one of the court’s “all-
purpose” (AP) parts. There are also “hearing parts,” where pre-trial matters, such as pleas,
discovery, and motions, are heard.
In the Criminal Court, most cases are settled before trial, either by negotiated pleas or by
dismissal. Cases that are not resolved in the AP parts are sent to one of the trial parts. One of
these trial parts has been dedicated to hearing domestic violence cases. In 1998, a post-judgment
compliance part was also established to monitor defendants’ adherence to the conditions of their
sentences in domestic violence cases. There is also has a misdemeanor drug treatment court that
provides post-plea supervised treatment to non-violent offenders.
Midtown Community Court
The Midtown Community Court was launched in 1993 to target quality-of-life offenses,
such as prostitution, illegal vending, graffiti, shoplifting, fare-beating and vandalism. The
Midtown Community Court sentences low-level offenders to community service while at the
same time offering them help with problems such as drug addiction and lack of employment.
Residents, businesses and social service agencies collaborate with the court by supervising
community service projects and by providing on-site social services, including drug treatment,
health care and job training. In 1999, the court began to hear small claims cases.