Understanding the Felony Arrest and Prosecution Process in Westchester County from Local Justice Court to Westchester County Court

I was arrested for a felony in Westchester County. The Westchester County police charged me with Second Degree Assault. Detectives from the Yonkers Police Department arrested my sister for felony drug possession. Whether you are arrested in Yorktown Heights, Mount Pleasant, Ossining, Scarsdale, North Castle or Pelham, any felony crime in Westchester County follows the same potential trajectory from arrest and arraignment through indictment or Superior Court Information (SCI).

Although the crimes may vary – Second Degree Criminal Mischief, Third Degree Grand Larceny, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon – Westchester County felony arrests are either disposed of in a local Justice Court as a misdemeanor, violation or dismissal, or are removed to the County Court in White Plains for prosecution as a felony. This blog entry will briefly address the process followed by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. Should you require further information about Westchester County felony crimes and the criminal process, consult with your criminal defense attorney.

After your arrest, assuming you have not already been indicted by a Grand Jury, your case will begin in the local court where the crime occurred. For example, if you committed a Third Degree Burglary in Mt. Kisco or a Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in Harrison, you would be arraigned on the felony complaint before the local Justice Court of those respective courts. A judge may or may not set bail. If you bail is set and you don’t get released, the case may be adjourned a few days for what is called CPL 180.80 whereby you must be released (barring exceptions) if the District Attorney does not secure an indictment. This right can be waived by your criminal lawyer.

Alternatively, whether you are in custody or not, the case may be adjourned for a longer date where your criminal defense attorney consents to conference the case with a prosecutor in County Court or the local Assistant District Attorney. Another possibility, the judge may adjourn your case for a Felony Hearing, similar to the 180.80 day mentioned above, where the District Attorney will call a witness or witnesses to establish a reasonable cause to believe you committed the felony in question. The advantage to this proceeding is that your our criminal defense attorney will be able to cross examine this witness or complainant. Even if a judge finds against you, prosecutors must still go to the Grand Jury in White Plains to secure an indictment and formally elevate your case from local court to County Court.

Sometimes cases are removed from the jurisdiction of a local justice court to the Westchester County Court in White Plains through a different means that circumvents the Grand Jury. Where evidence may be overwhelming or there is a reason to work out a deal in advance of indictment, you and your counsel can waive up for an SCI. In such a case, your attorney, an Assistant District Attorney and a judge will review your case for a felony plea without going before a Grand Jury. Whether you accept the disposition still, as always, remains your choice alone.

Remember, the above are some common means by which a felony arrest advances through the criminal justice system in Westchester County. Issues of bail, your right to testify in the Grand Jury, means to challenge a Felony Hearing, reduction of felonies to misdemeanors or non-criminal cases or pleas, as well as other relevant matters should be vetted in detail with your criminal defense lawyer, but a general understanding of process and procedure will set your foundation as you move through the process.

To learn more about the arrest and prosecution process in Westchester County, as well as the various crimes listed above and others, follow the links found here or review the websites listed below.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense law firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley including the counties of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess.

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