Town and village courts have original jurisdiction over any individual charged with any violation, misdemeanor, or felony matter that occurred within its geographical area. Town and village justices are the local magistrates, before which any individual charged with a crime must be brought for arraignment. At an arraignment, the accused is formally advised of the charges that have been filed against him or her.
In the case of felony matter, such as murder, robbery, or burglary, the town justice must decide at the arraignment whether to release the defendant on his or her own recognizance, under supervision, or with a set bail. If the defendant has been convicted of two prior felonies and is currently charged with a felony, the local judge must hold the defendant without bail. If the accused is not released, the judge must hold a preliminary hearing within 120 hours of the defendant’s arrest, or within 144 hours if a holiday or weekend intervenes during that time period.
The preliminary hearing is conducted to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed a felony. If the judge determines that there is reasonable cause to believe a felony has been committed, the defendant is held over for action of the grand jury. The court could also determine that the charges only raise to the level of a misdemeanor or that no violation of the law occurred.
The justice court has jurisdiction over all matters up through trial of misdemeanors such as:
- Assault in the third degree
- Criminal contempt, second degree
- Driving while intoxicated
- Petit larceny
The defendant is entitled to a bench trial or a jury trial. Jury trials in justice court call for a six-person jury, and a unanimous vote is required for conviction. If the defendant is convicted, the court can sentence a defendant to:
In the case of a violation such as disorderly conduct, the defendant is entitled to a bench trial. If convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to up to 15 days in the Monroe County Jail. Sentences can also include fines, probation, conditional discharge, and/or community service.