Responsibilities "The Courts Closest to the People"
Town justice courts play a vital role in the New York State Unified Court System. Town courts have broad jurisdiction, and they hear both civil and criminal matters.
On the civil side, the Town Court hears actions seeking monetary awards up to $3,000 and small claims proceedings for awards of up to $3,000. The small claims proceeding is intended to provide a low-cost, simplified and informal procedure for individuals to resolve disputes involving limited monetary claims. Often, individual litigants do not use an attorney in these matters and are not required to do so.
The court also handles landlord/tenant matters.
On the criminal side, the Town Court is authorized to handle matters involving the prosecution of misdemeanors and violations that are committed within the town's geographic boundaries. The Town Court also conducts arraignments and preliminary hearings in felony matters. In addition, the court hears Vehicle and Traffic Law misdemeanors and traffic infractions as well as local ordinance violations.
Town justices are required to be on-call 24 hours a day and are often called upon for immediate arraignments for both misdemeanor and felony charges as well as to act as Family Court judges when Family Court is not in session. In cases involving domestic violence, the judges are also authorized to issue orders of protection