There are four different levels of criminal courts within the New York State judicial system involved in processing criminal fingerprintable cases (Local Court; Superior Court (including the Grand Jury); Appellate Courts and the Court of Appeals). Each of these courts is responsible for sharing and reporting case information so that arrest information, stored at DCJS, is closed out with a court action.
The local level is comprised of town and village justice courts; district courts in Nassau and Suffolk Counties; city courts, and criminal courts in New York City (NYC).
Local courts have trial jurisdiction over infractions, violations and misdemeanors. Felonies can be arraigned at this level. Felonies can also be dismissed at this level if the accusatory instrument is deficient or if the court determines the circumstances do not support a felony charge. Felony charges can also be reduced to misdemeanor charges and proceed to trial in the local court. All other felonies are transferred to the jurisdiction of the superior court for trial purposes.
Superior Court (and Grand Jury)
The second level of criminal jurisdiction courts, the superior court, is comprised of county and supreme courts. The courts in this level have trial jurisdiction over any case but generally process felony cases and lesser offenses associated with a felony case.
The grand jury is an arm of the superior court. Felony cases which are arraigned in the local court and held over for the action of the grand jury pass from local court jurisdiction to superior court jurisdiction when the local court passes the case file to the superior court. This should occur immediately upon holding the case for the action of the grand jury (Criminal Procedure Law 180.70 subsection 1), rather than upon indictment. Reporting responsibilities on this case pass to the superior court clerk.
A third level processes appeals on prior court judgments. The county court hears appeals on judgments coming out of the upstate city courts and town and village justice courts in the 3rd and 4th Judicial Departments. The appellate term processes appeals on cases from the New York City Criminal Courts and Nassau and Suffolk County District Courts (1st and 2nd Judicial Departments). The appellate division hears appeals on county and supreme court cases.
Court of Appeals
The fourth level is the Court of Appeals. This court hears appeals on cases which have already been appealed once by courts in the appellate division, appellate term and county courts. It also hears capital cases directly (Criminal Procedure Law Sections 450.70, 450.80 and 450.90). The Court of Appeals is the highest court in New York State and the court of last resort.
New York State Unified Court System (UCS) Reporting Structure
The Unified Court System (UCS) is comprised of all the courts in New York State plus the Office of Court Administration, and the Administrative Offices of the individual Judicial Districts.
City, district, county, supreme courts, courts acting as appellate courts, and the Court of Appeals have a responsibility to report the criminal case outcome to the Unified Court System which maintains a repository of court case information.
Pursuant to New York State Executive Law and agreements made between the Executive Branch of government's state repository (Division of Criminal Justice Services [DCJS]) and the Judicial Branch of government's Office of Court Administration [OCA], court actions on criminal cases are to be reported to the state repository. The city, district, criminal and county courts report to the Office of Court Administration which in turn passes data electronically to the state repository. The town and village courts currently report information directly to the state repository.
Communication between the courts; between the court, UCS and DCJS; and between the courts and the prosecutor, is essential for the accurate reflection of judicial actions related to criminal arrests on the DCJS Criminal History Report (rapsheet).
That communication must include at a minimum the Defendant Pedigree Information and Criminal History Identifiers. The remaining Arrest Information Identifiers and Disposition Information Identifiers should be included as appropriate.
Defendant Pedigree Information:
Name and Alias(es)
Age or date of birth, if available and verifiable
Criminal History Identifiers:
Criminal Justice Tracking Number (CJTN), previously known as Court Control Number, OBTS Number, 501 Number
Name of the agency filing the instrument
Filing agency's case number
Detailed Arrest Charge information including law title and section, subsection, class and category, degree, counts, charge attempted or completed indicator and a description
Notation that the defendant is a juvenile offender, if applicable
Court Case Number(s)
Arrangement or Disposition Charge information including law title and section, subsection, class and category, degree, counts, charge attempted or completed indicator and a description
Criminal Case Documentation
Providing Complete Case Documentation
Document Sharing with other Agencies
Reporting to UCS and DCJS
Monitoring Cases for Completeness and Accuracy
Correcting DCJS Data
General Reporting Requirements
Action to Close out Offenses Charged
Local and Superior Court Involvement
Superseded Indictments or Counts
Reporting Sentence Imposed
Reporting Appellate Actions
Identifying Individuals Requiring Fingerprinting
Fingerprinting Adult Arrestees
Fingerprinting JD JO Arrestees
Timing of Fingerprinting
Obtaining Criminal Justice Tracking Number
Ordering Defendant Fingerprinted
Determining Appropriate Arrest Date
Processing a Case
Receiving Arrest Documentation
Initial Case Number Assignment
Changing Court Case Number
Establishment of Case Record
Arraigning and Transferring to another Court
Plea Agreements and Resulting Dismissals
Bench and Arrest Warrants
Dismissals, Sealed Cases, and Waiving Sealing
Sealing Court and Other Agency Records
Indictments Following Local Court Dismissal/Seal
Monitoring and Tracking a Case to Closure
Transfer of Probation Supervision
DCJS Criminal History Report (rapsheet)
Dissemination of Arrest Rapsheet
Rapsheet Use and Destruction