Saturday, January 14, 2012

Broome County Court, Binghamton, NY: A Lesson in Efficiency

Last week I went down to Binghamton for a felony case. This case actually began across the street from the county Court in the Binghamton City Court as a misdemeanor.

These Courts are all located on Hawley Street. This is a very convenient and efficient little area of Broome County. There is a big parking garage right across the street from the Federal Court building (the DMV does hearings here). The County Court building (the new annex for felonies), and the City Court are all within a block of one another.

Broome County Office Building & Binghamton City Court

This is the Annex to County Court (felonies on 3rd floor)

George Harvey Building next to the Annex & Across from Parking Garage

The way that it works in N.Y.S. is that "any and all" offenses have to start (to begin) at the local level first. This is usually a city, village, or town court. They begin by an arraignment (initial appearance) there.

New York State has three levels of offenses:

1. Violations: These are NOT crimes.

2. Misdemeanors: These are Crimes. Punishable up to one year in jail.

Town, City, and Village Courts can have trials and take action on Violations and Misdemeanors, NOT felonies.

3. Felonies: These are more serious Crimes. Punishable by more than one year in jail. These have to take place at County Court.

After a case begins, a felony can be brought (to the County Court) one of two ways:

-either they will bring the matter before a Grand Jury (23 people) to demonstrate Probable Cause to bring the felony charge. This has to happen within six months of arraignment at the local level.


-the case can be negotiated and then by a written agreement to proceed by SCI (superior court information), this is a negotiated plea agreement by the parties (the DA and you).

The SCI is the way most felony cases are resolved. The SCI saves the DA and the Courts work. In return the negotiation is for something both sides can live with. The risks of a felony trial are all too real. Felonies present the exposure of long term incarceration. This always has to be placed in perspective to the charges, the evidence, and the potential defenses to the prosecution's case.

For practical reasons the Annex does not open till 9:15am (to save NYS money). There is a nice little breakfast and lunch spot in the lower level of the Broome County Office Building.

Broome County (annex) Courthouse (Felony cases)
Hawley Street

George Harvey Justice Buiding (3rd floor, Binghamton City Court and Broome DA as well)
45 Hawley Street

Broome County Office Building (4th floor)
60 Hawley Street
location of DMV Administrative DWI Refusal License Hearings

Lawrence Newman, D.C., Esq.
504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850