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Suffolk County District Court - All FAQs


updated 10 February, 2009

Civil Court

What time are the Civil Courthouses open for business?
  • All courthouses are open Monday through Friday from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • “Night Small Claims” Court is held on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the Ronkonkoma Courthouse.
  • All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.
  • Most calendars are called at 9:30 a.m. (except Small Claims night court 6:00 p.m.)
  • Civil courthouses are closed and locked from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Can I call to get an adjournment on my civil case?

No.

  • Adjournment requests must be in writing and will not be considered by phone.
  • All other parties should be notified of all adjournment requests.

Do I need an attorney in the civil court?
  • It is strongly recommended, but not absolutely required, that an individual seek the advice of an attorney. Civil actions require specific knowledge of court proceedings.
  • Corporations are required to have an attorney in all proceedings (except Small Claims or Commercial Small Claims). It is necessary for an attorney to represent the corporation at all stages of an action, including answering the summons and complaint.
  • It is essential that a party proceeding without an attorney be fully versed in court procedure, trial and evidentiary rules. Neither the court staff nor judge may provide legal assistance at any stage of the proceedings.
What is the maximum amount that I can sue for in the civil court?
The maximum amount is $15,000 per cause of action in the civil part of the District Court. Small Claims are special actions that are limited to $5000 per filing. Landlord tenant court summary procedings have no monetary limit to damages,
How can I commence a civil suit?
  • Civil actions are generally commenced by an attorney filing a Summons and Verified Complaint with the correct filing fee. .
  • You must file a District Court civil summons form. The summons is different than the summons used in Supreme Court. The requirements for the summons is given paragraph (d) in the District Court Rules Section 212.6(d) 28 NYCRR. An example of an acceptable summons is a Blumberg form T1464 or T1480 from www.blumberglegalforms.com.
  • The summons must be issued (signed) by an attorney, or a Judge, or a Court Clerk.
  • You will need an original (retained by the court clerk) and a copy (returned to you) of all papers (summons, complaint, exhibits, affidavits) when you file your papers.
  • There is a filing fee.
  • After the summons is filed, you must arrange to have the summons and complaint served on the defendant.
What is the correct Summons format for the District Court?

The requirements for the summons is given paragraph (d) in the District Court Rules Section 212.6(d) 28 NYCRR. An example of an acceptable summons is a Blumberg form T1464 or T1480 from www.blumberglegalforms.com. The summons must be issued by an attorney, or a Judge, or a Court Clerk.

What is required on a verified complaint?
The purpose of the Complaint is to give the defendant information concerning the claims or causes of action. It contains allegations and material facts on which the plaintiff relies to support the demand (CPLR Article 30). Include:
  • plain and concise statements in consecutively numbered paragraphs, particularizing transactions and/or occurrences intended to be proved and separately stating each cause of action.
  • "Wherefore clause" demanding relief on at least one cause of action.
  • Verification by the plaintiff that the contents of the complaint is true, etc.

Remember:

  • $15,000.00 monetary jurisdiction for each cause of action in the complaint. Splitting a single cause of action is not acceptable.
  • Georgraphic jurisdiction is limited to the 5 west towns of Suffolk County: Babylon, Huntington, Smithtown, Islip, Brookhaven.

 

How do I serve someone with court papers?
  • Service may be made by someone over the age of eighteen who is not a party to the action.
  • A professional process server may be used. A plaintiff or defendant cannot serve papers.
  • The law specifies how papers must be served, and the methods vary depending on the type of paper that is being served.
  • Additionally, the method of service may be directed in an order of the court. The clerk of the court may be contacted to determine how papers may be served.


I have received a civil summons from the District Court. What do I do?
You must appear at the District Court Clerk's office where the case is pending to file an answer to the civil complaint. You should do this as soon as possible, since the maximum amount of time that you have to answer is either twenty or thirty days depending on how you were served with the summons. You should seek out legal advice from an attorney.
Can I answer a summons by mail?
  • You may file an answer by mail providing that the answer is notarized and served on the plaintiff's attorney.
  • If you do not answer, the plaintiff may file a default judgment against you.
  • If you are a corporation, you must answer through an attorney.
Can I answer a summons for my spouse?
No.
Can I file a counterclaim?

The defendant may include a counterclaim with the answer. There is no fee for this kind of counterclaim (but there is a fee for a Small Claims Counterclaim).

What happens after I answer a summons?
  • If both the plaintiff (the person starting the law suit) and the defendant (the person sued) are represented by an attorney, a Notice of Trial with the proper fee must be received before a case can proceed to trial or to compulsory arbitration.
  • If either side is self represented, the matter will immediately be scheduled for a pre-trial conference, before a judge, if the Cause of Action is greater than $6,000. If the Cause of Action is $6,000 or less, the matter will be referred to compulsory arbitration.

 

What if I am not satisfied with the decision of the arbitrator?
  • Any party who is not in default may request a trial de novo within 35 days of the mailing of the arbitrator's decision.
  • A demand for a new trial must be filed timely with the clerk, with the proper fee.

 

How do I get a verbatim transcript of a court proceeding? (A verbatim transcript is a printed version of everything said at a court proceeding. A clerk's transcript of judgment is a court form, usually filed with the county clerk to collect money from a person).

When requesting a verbatim transcript, you should have the

  • name of the case,
  • case number,
  • location of the proceeding, and
  • date of the proceeding,
  • and time stamp or meter reading of the proceeding (if a digital recording machine was used).

Most court proceedings are recorded either by a Court Reporter sitting in the courtroom writing down what is said in the courtroom or by a digital recording machine.

To have a transcript produced of a District Court proceeding which was recorded by a Court Reporter:

  • tell the reporter at the proceeding that you need a transcript, or
  • call the court reporters office (631) 853-5418, or
  • fax your request to the court reporters office (631) 853-7854 .

To have a transcript produced of an electronically recorded court proceeding, you may contact one of the transcription services listed on the list of Electronic Recording Transcription Services. This list of transcription services may also be found at courthouse public information windows.

These services are not employees of the Unified Court System, they are independent contractors and establish their own rates - price per page varies. They will either take the required information and contact the Court, or ask you to contact the court and arrange to have the recording sent to the contractor.

If you have any questions regarding a verbatim transcript from a Suffolk County District Court matter, please contact: Ron Gorman, Supervising Court Reporter, (631) 853-5418.

 

Small Claims Court

What is the Small Claim legislative history in New York State?

New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman proposed and signed the bill in 1934 creating a SMALL CLAIMS PART in New York City Municipal Court with a monetary limit of $50.00. Soon thereafter, Small Claims parts were established throughout the state with ever-increasing jurisdiction. (1945-$100.00, 1963-$300.00, 1971-$500.00, 1975-$1,000.00, 1981-$1,500.00, 1987-$2,000.00, 1994-$3,000.00, and 2004-$5000).

What is the definition of a Small Claim Action?
Any cause of action for money only, not in excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) exclusive of interest and costs.

Small claims matters are limited to the recovery of money. This is not the proper forum for punitive damages.

In Suffolk District Court, the defendant either resides, or has an office for the transaction of business or a regular employment within any district in the county (UDCA §1801): one of the five western towns of Suffolk County (Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip or Smithtown).

What is the proper venue for a Small Claim action?

The proper venue for a small claims action is in the District in which one of the parties resides at the commencement of the proceeding or, if no party then resides in a District, in the district in which one of the parties has regular employment or a place for the regular transaction of business (UDCA §301).

What is a Commercial Claim Action?

Chapter 653 of the Laws of 1987 enacted Article 18-A of the court acts: COMMERCIAL CLAIMS. The effective date for the District Courts and the City Courts outside New York City was January 1, 1989, and for New York City on January 1, 1991. The two year delay for commencing Commercial Claims in New York City gave court administrators an opportunity to prepare for the expected flood of filings. The drafters were so concerned, that the statute limited a commercial claimant to only five (5) actions per calendar month.

What is the definition of a Commercial Claim Action?
Same as SMALL CLAIM definition PLUS the claimant is a corporation, partnership or association, which has its principal office in the State of New York. An assignee may institute an action or proceeding under this article. (UDCA§§ 1801-A(a) and 1809-A(a))

The provisions of the Court Acts and Rules for SMALL CLAIMS and COMMERCIAL CLAIMS are similar if not identical in most respects. In general, most procedures (e.g. counterclaim, jury demand, etc. . .) will apply to both SMALL CLAIMS and COMMERCIAL CLAIMS actions.

What is the definition of a Consumer Transaction Claim?

A COMMERCIAL CLAIM against a natural person, wherein the money, property or service which is the subject of the transaction is primarily for personal, family or household purposes (UDCA §1801-A(b)).

Who can use the small claims court?
  • An individual, over age 18.
  • A partnership or municipal corporation
  • Corporations and associations must use the commercial claims court.
Who should I sue?

While it is important to sue the proper party, it is up to you determine who to sue. Court personnel may not provide legal opinions.

In a motor vehicle accident the registered owner of a vehicle should sue the registered owner of all other vehicles involved in an accident.
You should always make an effort to sue a business in their true business name. Such information is generally available through the Suffolk County Clerk, the NYS Department of State, or through consumer affairs or another state or county licensing agency.

You may sue a business under a name known to you. However, you must determine their true business name prior to judgment.

How do I sue someone in small claims court?

A DC-283 Complaint Form must be completed and filed with the court:

You need only know the name of the party you wish to sue, their street address, the amount, and the reason for your claim. Evidence is not required for filing.

The court will prepare a summons and notify the person you wish to sue.

The person or business you are suing must reside, maintain an office for business or be regularly employed in one of the five western towns of Suffolk County, which are: the town of Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip or Smithtown.

A street address must be provided for the person you intend to sue. Post office boxes alone are not acceptable.

What if I only have PO Box address for the person I intend to sue?
You should contact the United States Postal Service or the Postmaster where the post office box is located for the correct procedure to obtain the street address for a business, corporation or individual. Post office boxes alone are not acceptable.
Can I file by mail?

Yes.

You may download a copy of a Suffolk County District Court Complaint Form and mail it to the District Court Clerk's office with the proper fee. Follow the directions referenced at the Small Claims Mailing Instructions or the Commercial Claims instructions and link to the DC-283 claim form.

You may also send a self addressed stamped envelope to the District Court Clerk's office in the District Court where you intend to file your claim. The proper fee, in the form of a check or money order must be provided, made payable to “The Clerk of the District Court.” Do not send cash.

What if the person I want sue does not live in one of the five western towns?

You must sue an individual or business in the county of their residence or place of business. For example a Nassau resident must be sued in Nassau County.

If the party you intend to sue resides or does business in Suffolk County but is located in one of the five eastern towns, you must file your claim in the Justice court within that town.

If someone owes me more than $5,000 can I file separate claims to meet the total?

No! You may not split your “cause of action.” A cause of action is the basis for the claim, such as a contract or property damage from a car accident. Separate contracts or accidents may allow you to file separate claims.

Who will hear my case when I get to court?

All small and commercial claims cases are heard by either an attorney arbitrator or a judicial hearing officer. Hearings are informal and designed to expedite the claim between the parties.

What happens when I get to court?

Your case will be called in the courtroom. If both sides are ready to proceed, you will be called up to the arbitrator for a trial. All initial claims are heard by an arbitrator is Suffolk County.

The person who made the claim is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff will state their case by testifying under oath and presenting evidence. The person being sued ( the defendant) will have an opportunity to testify and present their own evidence.

How do I prove my case?

There are two parts to proving a case:

  1. Liability - Your testimony, the testimony of witnesses or evidence such as a signed contract, will generally prove who is at fault.
  2. Damages - The actual monetary amount of the claim. Damages may be proved in one of three ways:
    1. An itemized paid bill.
    2. Two estimates, from independent professionals.
    3. An expert witness (An expert witness may be required to prove that a professional performed their work improperly).

 

What happens after the trial?

If you have proven your case, the arbitrator will award a judgment for the amount which you have proven.

If you have not proven your case the matter will be dismissed.

If the defendant has filed a counterclaim and proves their case, a judgment may be entered against you.

What happens if the defendant does not come to court?

If the court was able to serve the person or business you are suing, you will have the right to a one sided trial called an Inquest. Even though the party is not present, you must still prove your case.

Why must my case be heard by an arbitrator?

In the Suffolk County District Court all matters are heard by an arbitrator. Judges in Suffolk County are assigned to complex civil matters and criminal proceedings, due to the high volume of cases in the county.

Most people find a hearing before an arbitrator to be even less complex than a formal trial before a judge. If either party is not satisfied with the arbitrator's decision, they may request a new trial, which is called a trial de novo, before a judge. There is an additional fee, which is payable by the party requesting the trial de novo. Less than 6% of all cases result in a new trial. See Post Arbitration Judgements and Trial de novo.

Do I need an attorney?

Attorneys are not required in small claims or commercial claims court.

Either side may retain an attorney.

If both sides appear with an attorney the case may be transferred to the regular civil part of the court.

Can I sue for the return of my property?

No!

Small claims is for the recovery of money only. You also cannot sue to have an action performed such as to have your kitchen cabinets fixed.

You may sue for the value of the property you are missing, or for the value of the required repair.

 

Guide to Small Claims Court

extracted and updated fromAdobe Acrobat PDF DocumentYour Guide to Small Claims & Commercial Small Claims in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County (2017)

This Guide shows you how to:

  • Start your case
  • File a claim
  • Collect a judgment
  • Contact government agencies
  • Find the right court for your Small Claim

 

What is Small Claims Court?

Who can use Small Claims Court?

Do I need a lawyer to sue in Small Claims Court?

What if I don't speak English well? Can I have an interpreter?

What if someone sues me, but I am not the responsible person?

Can I sue on behalf of someone else?

What are Commercial Small Claims and Consumer Transactions?

How do I start my Small Claims or Commercial Small Claims case?

Do I have to go to Small Claims Court to solve my problem?

Who tells the defendant about my claim?

Can I change the date of my hearing?

How do I prepare for my hearing?

Can I settle my claim before the Judge hears the evidence?

What should I do the day of my hearing?

What happens during my hearing?

What happens if one side does not go to the trial?

What if I do not agree with the Court's decision?

Can I appeal the Judge's decision?

What do I do if I win?

How do I find a Judgment Debtor's assets?

Important Government Offices

Small Claims Court Locations

 

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ABOUT SMALL CLAIMS COURT

WHAT IS SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
Small Claims Court is a special court where you can sue for up to $5000. You can only sue for money. You cannot sue to make someone do something or for pain and suffering.

Small Claims Court is sometimes called the People's Court because:

  • It is inexpensive and easy to use,
  • You do not have to have a lawyer,
  • The Court will notify the defendant for you,
  • It has convenient hours of operation, and
  • The Court can get you an interpreter, if you need one.

If the Court is not able to notify the defendant by mail, the clerk will tell you what to do.

Before you start your case, read these important facts:

For Small Claims you must:

  • Be an individual who is 18 or older
  • Fill out a court form that explains your claim
  • Pay a court fee ($15 – $20)

Corporations, associations, partnerships, and assignees must start a Commercial Small Claim. Partnerships may start a Small Claims case or a Commercial Small Claims case in Suffolk County District Court.

For Commercial Small Claims, you must:

  • Be a corporation, association, partnership, or assignee
  • Pay a court fee ($25 per claim, plus postage costs)
  • Send a demand letter first for consumer transactions
  • Limit: You cannot file more than 5 Commercial Small Claims statewide per calendar month.

You must file your Small Claims complaint or Commercial Small Claims complaint where the person you are suing lives, works, or has a place of business. If the defendant lives, works, or has a place of business in Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, or Smithtown in Western Suffolk County, you must use the Suffolk District Court. You may use the District Court location most convenient to you.

Deadline! There are strict deadlines for claims against a municipality, city, or county agency. back to top

Who can use Small Claims Court?
Any person who is 18 or older can sue in Small Claims Court. If you are under 18, your parent or guardian can sue for you.

Can I sue for more than $5000 in Small Claims Court?
No. If your claim is for more than $5000, you must start a civil case. You cannot split your claim into smaller claims to get around the limit.

Can partnerships start a Small Claims case?
In Suffolk District Court, partnerships can start a Small Claims case or a Commercial Small Claims case.

Can corporations and associations start a Small Claims case?
Corporations, associations, and assignees can start a Commercial Small Claims case, a different kind of Small Claims case.

Do I need a lawyer to sue in Small Claims Court?
You do not need a lawyer to sue in Small Claims Court. But you may hire one, if you want to. The other side may also have a lawyer.

What if I don't speak English well?
If you need an interpreter, tell the Small Claims Court Clerk when you file your claim. The clerk will assign an "official" interpreter to your trial if a party or witness needs one.

What if someone sues me, but I am not the responsible person?
Ask the Small Claims Court Clerk for information about a "third-party action." You may be able to have the responsible person added to your case.

Can I sue on behalf of someone else?
Unless you are the parent or guardian suing on behalf of your child, probably not. For example, if you had an accident in a borrowed car, the registered owner of the car can sue, but you cannot sue for damages to the car.

 

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ABOUT COMMERCIAL SMALL CLAIMS COURT

For Commercial Small Claims, you must:

  • Be a corporation, association, partnership, or assignee that has its principal office in New York State
  • Pay a court fee ($25 per claim, plus postage costs)
  • Send a demand letter first for consumer transactions
  • Limit: You cannot file more than 5 Commercial Small Claims statewide per calendar month.

What are Commercial Small Claims?
A Small Claim filed by a corporation, partnership, or association for up to $5,000 is a Commercial Small Claim. You cannot sue to make someone do something or for pain and suffering.

Here are some examples of Commercial Small Claims:

  • You are a corporation and you have a contract to sell bananas to Joe's grocery store. You deliver the bananas, but Joe does not pay. You can sue for the money you are owed.
  • You are a homeowner's association and you hire Ernie's lawn company for landscaping. You pay half the money owed up front. The landscaping is done poorly. You can sue for your money back.

If your Commercial Small Claim is against an individual, not a business, and the claim is about goods or services that were mainly for personal, family or household use, the Commercial Small Claim is a "consumer transaction." You must follow special rules for a consumer transaction.

Here is an example of a consumer transaction claim:

  • You are a corporation and you sell a dining room set to Rochelle. She does not pay you for the furniture. Your claim can ask for the money you are owed.

Who can file a Commercial Small Claims case?
Any corporation, partnership, or association that has its principal office in New York State, or an assignee of any commercial claim, may file a Commercial Small Claim* for up to $5,000. "Corporation" includes municipal corporations and public benefit corporations.

Can a collection agency file a Commercial Small Claim?
Yes. Collection agencies or other entities with a claim on a debt assigned to them may file a Commercial Small Claim as long as they did not buy the claim for the purpose of bringing an action.

Is there a limit on how many Commercial Small Claims can be filed?
Yes. You cannot file more than 5 claims statewide per calendar month.

Can a Commercial Small Claimant sue more than one person or business?
Yes. There can be more than one defendant in a Commercial Small Claims case.

Do you need a lawyer to bring a Commercial Small Claim?
No. You do not have to have a lawyer to file a Commercial Small Claims case. But you may have one at your own expense, if you want one.

Can the defendant have a lawyer?
Yes. The other side may have a lawyer. If both sides have a lawyer, your case may be transferred to Civil Court. You (the claimant/plaintiff) must pay any additional court fees.

Is there a fee to file a Commercial Small Claims case?
Yes. There is a Commercial Small Claims case filing fee, plus postage costs.

What are the special rules for starting a Commercial Small Claims case that is a Consumer Transaction?
Commercial Small Claims Consumer Transaction cases must follow these rules:

  • You must send the defendant a DC-292Demand Letter before you file your Commercial Small Claim. Do this at least 10 days (but not more than 180 days) before you file your claim.
  • You must DC-293certify that you sent a demand letter.

Where can I get a demand letter form and certification for my consumer transaction case?
You can get the DC-292Demand Letter for Commercial Small Claims Consumer Transaction and the DC-293Certification for Commercial Small Claims Consumer Transaction forms from the Court Clerk.

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How do I file my claim?

How do I start my Small Claims or Commercial Small Claims case?
You or someone else may start your case by filling out a Complaint Form (DC-283). The Complaint Form describes your claim to the Court. You may file by mail or you may file in person at one of the District Court courthouses.

You will be required to pay a filing fee.

How to fill out the Small Claims Complaint Form

How to fill out the Commercial Claims Complaint Form

What information will I need to fill out the form?
You will need the correct name and street address of each defendant and claimant. You cannot use only a PO Box address.

What if I do not have the defendant's correct, legal name?
You should find the defendant's true legal name before you file.

If the defendant is a business,

You can use any name that the business or person operating the business uses. If you do not provide the defendant's true legal, it will be very hard for you to collect your money judgment, if you win.

What do I do with my completed form?
File it in person (or ask someone to file it for you) at the Small Claims Court Clerk's Office. If you are filing the Small Claims Complaint form by mail or filing the Commercial Claims Complaint form by mail you must sign it in front of a notary first.

Do I have to pay to file my claim?
Yes. You must pay a Small Claims filing fee or Commercial Small Claims filing fee by cash or money order, credit cards, or personal checks. Have photo ID available. Checks and money orders should be made payable to "The Clerk of the Court." The fees to sue in Small Claims Court are listed on our Fees webpage.

Is there another way to solve my problem without going to Court?
Yes. Every county in the state of New York has a community dispute resolution center that offers mediation for free.

You can find the location of a community dispute resolution center near you in the phonebook or at the Small Claims Court Clerk's Office. back to top

Can the person I am suing sue me?
Yes! If the person you are suing (the defendant) wants to sue you, s/he may file a Small Claims counterclaim against you.

In Small Claims and Commercial Small Claims Court, a counterclaim can only be for money, and the limit is $5000. The defendant will have to pay a $5 filing fee plus the cost of mailing to file a counterclaim.

How will I know if the defendant files a counterclaim?
The Court will send you a notice or you will be told on the trial date. If the defendant files a counterclaim, s/he must do so:

  • Within 5 days of getting the notice of your claim, or
  • On the day of the trial.

If the defendant sues me, will my case be postponed?
If the defendant files the counterclaim on the day of the trial, you may ask the Judge to postpone the case so you can have time to prepare. Sometimes Judges will postpone the trial even if you do not ask for it.

But if you received notice of the counterclaim before the date of your trial, you must be ready to present your claim and defend against the counterclaim on the date of your trial.

 

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WHO TELLS THE DEFENDANT ABOUT MY CLAIM?
After you file your claim, the Small Claims Court Clerk will serve the defendant a notice by mail. If the defendant cannot be served by mail, the clerk will tell you what to do.

Service of the notice lets the defendant know about your claim. It tells the defendant:

  • What the claim is about,
  • How much money you are asking for, and
  • The date of your Small Claims Court trial.

How do I know if the defendant was served?
The clerk will mail the defendant two copies of the notice:

  1. by regular, first-class mail, and
  2. by certified mail.

If the Post Office does not return the notice that was sent by regular mail to the clerk's office within 21 days (30 days for Commercial consumer transaction cases), the Court considers the defendant to have been served – even if the notice sent by certified mail was not delivered.

If both regular, first-class mail

What if the Post Office was not able to deliver either notice?
If neither notice could be delivered, the clerk will:

  • Tell you how to have the defendant served, and
  • Give you a new date and time for your trial.

How do I have the defendant served?
You can also hire a process server. Or you can have someone who is 18 or older – not you or anyone else involved in this case – serve the notice. The Clerk will give you instructions.

If 4 months go by after you first file your claim, and you have not been able to personally serve the defendant, the Court will dismiss your case. Later, if you find out about the defendant's location, you can file your claim again.

You cannot have a trial if the defendant was not served. back to top

CAN I CHANGE THE DATE OF MY HEARING?
Adjournments in the Small Claims Court are discouraged. Only the Judge decides if an adjournment is to be granted.

Can I postpone my trial?
You can ask the Court to postpone your trial, but unless you have a good reason, the Court may not agree.

How do I ask to postpone my trial?
Send a letter to the Court and the other side asking to postpone (adjourn) your trial. You cannot ask for a postponement by phone. You (or someone who can speak for you) should go to the Small Claims Court on the date of your trial and explain to the Court why you need a postponement.

If you or someone else on your behalf can not come to Court on the trial date, the Court will read your letter, but may not postpone the case and your case may be dismissed. If you are the defendant, the Court may hear your case even if you are not there. You should contact the Court the day after your trial date to find out what the new trial date will be. Have your case number or index number when you contact the court. back to top

Which Small Claims Court do I use?
You must file your Small Claims complaint or Commercial Small Claims complaint where the person you are suing lives, works, or has a place of business.

If the defendant lives, works, or has a place of business in Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, or Smithtown in Western Suffolk County, you must use the Suffolk District Court. You may use any of the five Suffolk District Court locations most convenient to you.

If the defendant lives, works, or has a place of business in Suffolk County but is located in one of the five eastern towns of Riverhead, Southold, East Hampton, Shelter Island, or Southampton, file your claim in the Justice court within that town (see page 34 of Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentYour Guide to Small Claims & Commercial Small Claims in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County (2010). There are special rules for Small Claims cases in Eastern Suffolk County.

If the defendant lives, works, or has a place of business in Nassau County, you must use the Small Claims Court listed on page 32 of the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentYour Guide to Small Claims & Commercial Small Claims in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County (2010) to know which court you must use.

If the defendant lives, works, or has a place of business in New York City, you can use the Small Claims Court in:

  • The New York City County where you live,
  • The New York City County where the defendant lives or works, or has a place of business.

If the defendant lives in New York City, but you do not, contact the Small Claims Clerk (see page 31 of the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentYour Guide to Small Claims & Commercial Small Claims in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County) in the county where the defendant lives , works or has a place of business. Ask the clerk how to file by mail.

 

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Special rules for suing a public agency, city, town or village

Can I sue a public agency in Small Claims Court?
You can use the Small Claims courts to sue a

  • town,
  • village,
  • city, or
  • county agency.

You cannot sue the federal government or a state agency in Small Claims Court. Sue a state agency in the NYS Court of Claims.

Do I have to tell the agency that I plan to sue them?

Yes! By law, you have only 90 days to notify the agency. Start counting from the day you were injured or your items were damaged. You cannot sue unless you notify the agency.

What if I miss the 90-day deadline?

The Court may dismiss your case, even if you are only 1 day late.

How do I notify the agency?

Get the notice form from the agency you are suing. Fill it out. The agency will give you a claim number. In New York City, the Small Claims Clerk can give you addresses for all New York City agencies.

What do I do after I notify the agency?

The agency may:

  • Make you an offer to settle your claim,
  • Deny (refuse to pay) your claim, or
  • May not respond.

After 30 days, you may file start your case in Small Claims Court.

Deadline! You have 1 year + 90 days to file (or 1 year + 30 days if you are suing the MTA). Start counting from the date you were injured or your items were damaged. back to top

PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIAL

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY TRIAL?

Before your trial, organize all your evidence that supports your claim, including:

  • Photos, written agreements, letters, or other documents,
  • Itemized bills, canceled checks, receipts or invoices marked PAID, damaged items, etc.

If you are asking for money for repairs or service, you must get two different itemized written estimates.

Can I have witnesses at my trial?

Yes. You can have witnesses at your trial. A witness can be:

  • You,
  • Someone who knows something about your claim, or
  • Someone with a lot of knowledge or experience with the reason for your claim. (This is called an expert witness.)

Before speaking to the Court (testifying), all witnesses must first swear to tell the truth.

Do I need an expert witness to testify at my trial?

If the reason for your claim requires expert knowledge to understand, it's a good idea to have an expert witness. For example, if your claim is about medical care, you will need a doctor with expert knowledge of your type of claim. That doctor must be willing to testify at your trial. In most cases, you must pay an expert witness to testify. You cannot use a subpoena to make an expert witness testify.

What if a witness does not want to testify?
You canAdobe Acrobat PDF Document ask the Small Claims Court Clerk for a witness subpoena if you do not have an attorney. A witness subpoena is a court order that can order your witness to go to your trial to testify.

What if a witness does not want to give me records?
You can submit a subpoena duces tecum to the Small Claims Court Clerk and ask for the Clerk to issue it if you do not have an attorney. You can get the subpoena duces tecum at a legal stationery store or from a legal forms book from any law library

Who gives (serves) the witness the subpoena?
You must arrange for the witness to be served the subpoena. The server can be a friend or relative who is 18 or older. Neither you nor anyone else involved in this case can be the server.

Do I have to pay the witness?
The subpoenaed witness has the right to receive a witness fee, which must be paid when the subpoena is served. You must pay the witness fees, and in some cases, you may have to pay travel expenses, too.

Is there a deadline to serve a subpoena?
The subpoena must be served before the trial date. You should give the witness a "reasonable" amount of time to prepare for the trial and/or to produce the items listed on the subpoena. Reasonable usually means 5 or more days before the trial.

 

Can the defendant and I agree to settle our case before the trial?

Yes. A mediator from a community dispute resolution center may help you settle your case.

It is almost always better if you and the defendant can make an agreement either before or during the trial. You may feel certain that you will win your case, but the Court may not agree with you.

If you make an agreement before your trial date, and the claim has been paid in full, notify the Small Claims Court Clerk in writing. The clerk will mark the case settled, and neither side will have to go to Court.

If you agree to settle, but the defendant has not paid you in full by the trial date, or you need more time to finish your agreement, go to Court on your trial date. Ask for a postponement so you can finish your agreement and get your claim paid. (This is called an Adjournment Pending Settlement.) The Court will give you a new trial date. If the claim is still not settled by the new trial date, go to court on the new date. back to top

YOUR TRIAL

WHAT SHOULD I DO ON THE DAY OF MY TRIAL?

Get to the courthouse at least 15 minutes early. (It takes time to go through security and find your courtroom.)

Find your Small Claims Courtroom, then look for the Small Claims Court calendar. The calendar is a list of the day's cases. It is usually posted outside the courtroom.

Look for your last name and the defendant's last name on the calendar. If your case is not listed on the calendar, or if there is no calendar posted, ask the Court Clerk for help.

What happens if one side does not go to the trial?

If you, the claimant, are not in Court when the Small Claims Clerk calls the case, the Court will dismiss your case.

If the defendant is not in Court when the Small Claims Clerk calls the case, the Court will hear your case without the defendant. (This is called an inquest.) If you show enough evidence, you may win your case. If this happens the Court will enter a default judgment against the defendant.

Defendants in default judgment cases can ask the Small Claims Court Clerk how to re-open a case.

How will I know when my case starts?

The Court follows these steps:

  1. The clerk will call your case and your name.
  2. Stand up and say your name.
  3. Unless you are asking for a postponement, say, "Ready."
  4. If you want to postpone your trial or make another request say, "Application."

The Court may tell you to discuss your case with a mediator in the courthouse to see if you can settle the case.

If you and the defendant are both ready, the trial will start.

Who will decide my case?

In Suffolk County District Court, an Arbitrator will decide your case. An Arbitrator is an experienced lawyer with special training in Small Claims cases.

Arbitrators and Judges apply the same law to your case, but a trial with an Arbitrator is less formal.

Will there be a jury?

No. Small claims cases decided by an Arbitrator do not have juries.

Small claims cases decided by a Judge do not have juries unless the defendant demands it. SEE BELOW FOR TRIAL DE NOVO. The defendant would have to pay a demand for jury trial fee and an additional $50 fee (The $50 fee is an "undertaking" will be given to the side that wins the case). The defendant must also file a sworn notarized statement, called an "affidavit," saying:

  • S/he is asking for a jury trial in good faith, and
  • The claim has at least one question of fact that must be decided by a jury.

The clerk can provide more information about how to ask for a jury trial. back to top

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY TRIAL?

The trial starts…

You, the claimant, go first. You will take an oath to tell the truth, and then you will tell your side of the story and show the Court your papers and other evidence. It's up to you to prove your claim.

Next, the Court and the defendant may ask you questions about the case.

If you have witnesses, they will take an oath and testify next. The Court and defendant may ask them questions, too.

Then the defendant takes an oath and tells his/her side of the story. The defendant can show papers and other evidence, and witnesses can testify on his/her behalf. Before they testify they must also take an oath to tell the truth.

You (the claimant) and the Court can ask the defendant and the defendant's witnesses questions.

You may ask the Court to question the defendant about his/her assets, such as a car, house, or bank accounts. This information may help you collect your judgment if you win your case.

Important! If you did not have the defendant's correct name when you started the case, you may ask the Court to correct it now. If you do not do this now, it will be very hard for you to collect your money judgment if you win.

The Court will decide.

When the trial is over, the Court does not usually make a decision right away. In most cases, the Court needs some time to consider your case. The Court will mail its decision to both sides within a few days. back to top

AFTER YOUR TRIAL

You should receive a written decision, called an Arbitrators Report, in the mail within 2 weeks. Some instructions will be included - read them carefully.

 

If the defendant did not come to court and the court orders a default judgment …

The defendant may ask the Court to open the case again if s/he has

  • a valid defense and
  • a good reason for not going to the trial.

If the Court agrees to open the case again, the clerk will schedule another trial. The Court may take your case on that date or postpone it to a later date. Defendants in default judgment can ask the Small Claims Court Clerk how to re-open a case (by Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentorder to show cause and a Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentsupporting affidavit).

 

TRIAL DE NOVO

If an Arbitrator decided your case and you do not agree with the decision…

You can ask for a new trial in front of a Judge:

Any party who is not in default has 35 days from the date of the mailing of the Arbitrator's Award to ask the court for a new trial before a Judge. This is called a trial de novo. If you ask for a trial de novo you will have to pay a demand for trial de novo filing fee.

more information about trials de novo

A trial de novo is a new trial. The Arbitrator's award is vacated and a Judge has a trial as if arbitration never happened.

At a trial de novo, the Judge does not read the Arbitrator's Award. All evidence and witnesses are heard for the first time by the Judge. The Judge's decision is based on the evidence and testimony heard by the Judge, not the Arbitrator.

The Judge's decision may be the same as the Arbitrator's decision, or may award more or less money than the Arbitrator, or may decide for the other party.

 

APPEALS

If a Judge decided your case in a trial de novo

You can ask a higher court to review your case. This is called an "appeal."

Is it hard to win an appeal?

Yes. Very few Small Claims decisions are appealed, and very few appeals are successful. The higher Court will only decide if there was substantial justice between the parties. That means deciding if the trial was basically fair. The higher Court will not change a Small Claims decision because of a technical mistake made at the trial.

Do I need a lawyer to ask for an appeal?

You are not required to have an attorney to file an appeal, but you should consult with one. Keep in mind that it may cost you more to appeal your Small Claims case than what you could win.

Is there a deadline to ask for an appeal?

Yes. You must file a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal within 30 days of the Court's judgment. The Small Claims Court Clerk can give you more information.

Do I have to pay for an appeal?

Yes. You will have to pay for a fee for a Notice of Appeal. You will also have to pay for a typed trial transcript for the higher court.

Do I still have to pay the judgment if I ask for an appeal?

Unless you deposit a sum of money equal to the amount of the judgment or file a bond with the Small Claims Court Clerk, you must pay the judgment. The bond or money deposited guarantees payment of the judgment if you lose the appeal.

If you receive a notice of appeal, call the Small Claims Court to ask if a bond or the judgment amount has been paid to the Court. If it hasn't, you can start collecting your judgment right away.

 

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COLLECTING YOUR JUDGMENT

WHAT DO I DO IF I WIN?

How do I get my money if I win?

After the trial, the Court will mail you and the other side the Arbitrator's Case Report. Read it and the other instructions in the envelope carefully. It says:

  • The Court's decision about how much money the other side has to pay you,
  • The County Clerk & Sheriff's office address and phone number, and
  • Ways to collect your judgment.

If you win, you are the judgment creditor. The side that owes the money is the judgment debtor.

Will the Court collect (enforce) the judgment?

No. The Court will not collect the money for you. You must collect the judgment yourself. But the judgment is valid for 20 years. Even if you won your case, there is no guarantee that you can collect your money. If the defendant does not pay willingly, there are legal steps that you can take to "enforce" the judgment..

How do I collect my judgment?

You can call or write the judgment debtor and ask for payment.

You can request a transcript of judgment from the Court Clerk. The Court charges a fee for the transcript. You must file the original transcript of judgment with the Suffolk County Clerk.

You can read below for collection suggestions.

You may file a copy of the transcript of judgment with the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff is an "enforcement officer" authorized to take money or property from the judgment debtor to pay your judgment. Sheriff's Office personnel work for the county.

What do I say to the Sheriff's Office?

Say that you are the judgment creditor in a Small Claims case, give the Sheriff's Office a copy of the transcript of judgment filed with the County Clerk, and say that you want to an execution. An execution is a court order that allows the Sheriff's Office to take property or money to get your judgment paid.

Property Execution

When you file the original Transcript of Judgment with the Suffolk County Clerk, you may request the County Clerk sign and seal a Property Execution (Form 199). The Property Execution (Form 199) is available from the County Clerk’s office. The County Clerk collects a fee to sign and seal the form.

The Property Execution directs the Sheriff’s Office to enforce the judgment by demand and through levy (seizure) of assets (such as a motor vehicle or bank account). You must provide information regarding assets subject to levy and prepay the statutory fees to the Sheriff’s Office. File a copy of the Transcript of Judgment, the original and multiple copies of the Property Execution form, and the appropriate filing fees with the Sheriff’s Office - call the Sheriff at (631) 852-5627 for details.

Income Execution

When you file the original Transcript of Judgment with the County Clerk, you may request the County Clerk sign and seal an Income Execution form, like the Blumberg T439. You can buy the Income Execution form online or from a legal stationery store. The County Clerk collects a fee to sign and seal each Income Execution form.

The Income Execution directs the Sheriff’s Office to enforce the judgment through the attachment and garnishment of wages, salary, and commissions of the Debtor. You must fully complete the Income Execution form including Debtor’s estimated salary and complete address for the Debtor and Debtor’s employer. A separate Income Execution form is needed for each Debtor and each Debtor’s place of employment. File a copy of the Transcript of Judgment, the sealed original and 7 copies (front and back) of the Income Execution form, and the Sheriff’s Office fees with the Sheriff’s Office. The minimum filing fee is $72.50, but additional fees and paperwork may be required – call the Sheriff’s Office at (631) 852-5623 for details.

Do I have to pay the the Sheriff's Office?

Yes. If the judgment will be taken from the judgment debtor's income, you may have to pay a fee in advance. If the Sheriff's Office is taking property to pay the judgment, you must also pay the Sheriff's Office's mileage fees in advance. Sometimes these fees can be added to the judgment so the judgment debtor would have to pay you back.

If you and the judgment debtor agree to settle after you hire the Sheriff's Office, you must pay the Sheriff's Office 5% of the settlement amount, whether the Sheriff's Office helped you settle the case or not. In a settled case, you will not be able to recover any fees already paid.

How does the Sheriff's Office know what assets the judgment debtor has?

You must find out about the judgment debtor's assets and give that information to the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office will want to know about the judgment debtor's property, including:

  • Checking and savings accounts.
  • The type of property and the location of the property.

How do I find out about the judgment debtor's money and property?

Try to find the judgment debtor's bank.

You or someone you know may have paid the judgment debtor with a check. If so, look on the back of the canceled check for the bank's information.

If you can find the name and address of the judgment debtor's bank, the enforcement officer can seize (take) money from the account to pay your judgment.

Find out if the judgment debtor has a car.

Contact the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to find out if the judgment debtor owns a car. If s/he does, the enforcement officer might be able to seize (take) it, then sell it to pay your judgment.

Ask DMV for this information:

  • Vehicle year, make & model,
  • License plate number, and
  • Address where the vehicle is registered.

Caution! If the judgment debtor still owes money on the car, that loan must be paid before you can get any money. You will also have to pay the enforcement officer towing and storage fees in advance (about $150 or more).

Find out if the judgment debtor owns real estate.

Real property can be sold to pay your judgment. Go to the County Clerk in the county where you believe the judgment debtor owns property. If the judgment debtor does own property, ask the Small Claims Court Clerk for a transcript of judgment, pay the fee for the transcript of judgment, and then file it with the County Clerk.

Then you can ask the Suffolk Sheriff (or enforcement officer where the property is located) to sell the property to pay your judgment. You will have to fill out papers to sell the property. Then after it is sold, the officer's fees and expenses, as well as any mortgage, tax liens, and previous judgments owed by the judgment debtor will be deducted from the proceeds of the sale. If there is money left over, it can be used to pay your judgment.

How else can I find out about the judgment debtor's assets?

You can use an information subpoena. This is a legal document signed by the Small Claims Court Clerk that orders the judgment debtor and others to answer questions about the judgment debtor's assets.

Where can I get an information subpoena form?

You can request the Small Claims Clerk to issue an information subpoena if you do not have an attorney. The Small Claims Clerk will collect a fee. Tell the Small Claims Clerk if you need proposed questions to ask about assets.

Information subpoena forms are also available with preprinted questions from :

  • a legal stationery store,
  • a legal forms book from any law library

You can write your own questions based on what you know about the judgment debtor, if you prefer.

Who should I send the information subpoena to?

Send it to the judgment debtor and anyone else who may know about the judgment debtor's assets, including the judgment debtor's:

  • Employer,
  • Landlord,
  • Phone or utility company, or
  • Bank.

Will the clerk deliver the information subpoena for me?

No. The clerk will sign the information subpoena, but will not deliver it for you. Send the signed information subpoena to the judgment debtor along with:

  • Two copies of the questions, and
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope. Make sure you put enough postage! You can use regular or certified mail, return receipt requested.

Are there other ways to make a judgment debtor pay?

Yes. In certain kinds of cases, you may be able to get the judgment debtor's driver's license or professional or business license suspended until the judgment is paid.

Here are some examples:

  • If your claim had to do with the judgment debtor's car or how s/he drove a car, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend the judgment debtor's driver's license and car registration until your judgment is paid. Your judgment must be for $1000 or more, and it must be unpaid for more than 15 days. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles for the Supporting Affirmation (SR-60) form .
  • If your claim was about the judgment debtor's licensed or certified business, notify the state or local licensing agency if the judgment debtor has not paid you. The agency may decide to revoke, suspend, or refuse to grant or renew a business license. It must be at least 35 days since the judgment debtor received notice of the judgment. See below for a list of some agencies that may be able to help you.
  • If a judgment debtor has 3 or more unpaid recorded judgments including yours, but s/he has the ability to pay them, you may be able to sue the judgment debtor for 3 times more than your original judgment. This is called treble damages. Ask the Small Claims Court Clerk if the judgment debtor is listed in the Small Claims Court's index of unsatisfied judgments.
  • If the Court finds the judgment debtor's business is fraudulent or illegal, you can notify the the Attorney General and, if the business is licensed, the appropriate licensing authority as well.

 

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IMPORTANT GOVERNMENT OFFICES


New York State homepage
Suffolk County homepage


SUFFOLK COUNTY CONSUMER AFFAIRS
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788-0099
(631) 853-4600 (8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
The Department of Consumer Affairs enforces the Consumer Protection Law and weights and measures statutes. It also licenses various types of businesses and activities. The Department also conducts research about consumer issues, educates the public about consumer issues and resolves consumer complaints.

SUFFOLK COUNTY SHERIFF
Civil Bureau of the Enforcement Division
360 Yaphank Ave, Yaphank NY 11980
(631) 852-5600

SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
30 Yaphank Avenue
Yaphank, NY 11980
(631) 852-6000

If you are involved in an auto accident and need a copy of the accident report you can contact Central Records (631) 852-6015, allowing at least five days after the accident for the report to be filed.

To obtain an accident report after 30 days, contact the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles , (518) 474-0710 .

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLERK
310 Center Drive
Riverhead, NY 11901
(631) 852-2000
To obtain the correct or legal name of a business.

NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE & MARKETS

The Department's regulatory authority includes licensing of and the issuing of permits for:

  • Manufacturers, wholesalers, and handlers of frozen desserts;
  • Persons acting as dealers, brokers, or commission merchants for the sale of farm products;
  • Milk dealers;
  • Food processing establishments;
  • Refrigerated warehouses, locker plants, and fresh foods;
  • Operators of purebred dog kennels
  • Anyone who deals in, handles, or transports domestic animals, or operates a livestock auction.

NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF ALCOHOL BEVERAGE CONTROL - STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY

The Division issues licenses and permits authorized by the Alcohol Beverage Control Law for the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages within the State.

NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE
120 Broadway
New York, NY 10271
(212) 416-8000
Regional Offices

NEW YORK STATE BANKING DEPARTMENT

The Banking Department regulates all state-chartered banking activities. They enforce laws and policies dealing with consumer credit, financial services, illegal lending, and other consumer abuses.


NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

The Education Department licenses approximately 30 professions, including:

  • Accountants
  • Optometrists
  • Acupuncturists
  • Pharmacists
  • Architects
  • Physical therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Physicians
  • Dental hygienists
  • Physician assistants
  • Dentists
  • Podiatrists
  • Engineers
  • Psychologists
  • Interior designers
  • Social workers
  • Nurses
  • Veterinarians
JUDICIAL BRANCH - APPELLATE DIVISIONS

The Appellate Divisions conduct proceedings to admit, suspend, or disbar attorneys who wish to practice or who are practicing in the courts of New York State.


NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES

The Department of Financial Services issues licenses and permits, conducts examinations, and administers fines relating to insurance companies, agents, brokers, and adjusters.


NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

The Department of Labor has regulatory jurisdiction in the areas of employee safety and health, employee earnings, and employee coverage under unemployment insurance.


NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES

The Department of Motor Vehicles regulates the registration and titling of motor vehicles and issues drivers' licenses. It also licenses or registers inspection stations, driving schools and instructors, repair shops, dealers and transporters, the vehicle salvage industry, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, motorboats, and unique motor vehicles.


NEW YORK STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

The Public Service Commission oversees all gas, electric, and waterworks corporations, as well as telephone and telegraph lines. Rates for privately owned gas, electric, steam, telephone, telegraph, radio-telephone, and waterworks corporations need Commission approval.


NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION & FINANCE

The Department of Taxation & Finance is responsible for the registration of Alcoholic beverage distributors; Motor fuel distributors; Diesel motor fuel retailers and bulk purchasers; Owners of diesel motor vehicles; Flea market promoters; Vendors required to collect sales tax; Organizations exempt from sales tax. The Department is responsible for the licensing of Wholesale dealers of cigarettes; State lottery ticket vendors. The department issues permits for motor vehicles subject to highway-use or fuel-use taxes. It also appoints cigarette tax agents.


NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

The Department of Transportation regulates railroads, buses and trucking companies. It also grants licenses to public utility companies for real estate rights on Department of Transportation-controlled property.

 

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COURTHOUSE LOCATIONS

Suffolk County District Court Small Claims Court Locations

If the party you intend to sue resides or does business in Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, or Smithtown in Western Suffolk County, file your claim in the Suffolk District Court. You may use any of the five Suffolk District Court locations most convenient to you.

Small Claims Court is held in the District Court Courthouses in Hauppauge, Huntington Station, Lindenhurst, Patchogue and Ronkonkoma one or two days a week at 9:30 AM.

Evening Small Claims Court is held in Ronkonkoma on certain Wednesdays at 6:00 PM.

Schedule for Small Claims and Commercial Small Claims Court

 

If the party you intend to sue resides or does business in Suffolk County but is located in one of the five eastern towns of Riverhead, Southold, East Hampton, Shelter Island, or Southampton, file your claim in the Justice court within that town (see page 34 of Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentYour Guide to Small Claims & Commercial Small Claims in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County (2010).

 

If the party you intend to sue resides or does business in Nassau County file your claim in the Nassau District Court (see page 32 of Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentYour Guide to Small Claims & Commercial Small Claims in New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County (2010).

 

If the party you intend to sue resides or does business in New York City, file your claim in the NYC Civil Court where you or the party resides or does business.

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Landlord & Tenant

These frequently asked questions are written to help you understand Landlord Tenant Court better. They are not a substitute for a lawyer's advice.

Landlord and Tenant proceedings require a high level of understanding of the laws and rules of New York State, including:

and local rules and practices. While you have a right to proceed without an attorney, this Court suggests that you consult with an attorney before proceeding as a self-represented landlord or tenant.

Please also see:

What is a Landlord-Tenant (L&T) court case?

Landlord-Tenant (L&T) court cases are mostly evictions, where a landlord is asking a Judge to order a tenant to leave. Evictions are filed pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Actions and Proceeding Law (RPAPL) summary proceedings to recover possession of real property.

The two most common types of evictions (see RPAPL §711) are

  • Non-Payment proceedings - brought only after there is a default in the payment of rent, and the landlord demands that the tenant pay the rent or move from the property (and is not subject to any limitation in the amount of unpaid rent that can be awarded in a summary proceeding).
  • Holdover proceedings - brought when a person remains in possession of real property after the term of a tenancy expires, for example when a lease ends or after service of a termination notice
There are other proceedings (some are listed in RPAPL §713 and RPAPL §715) - you should speak to an attorney to draft your papers.

Tenants might also file L&T cases to make a landlord fix a dangerous or life-threatening condition. These cases are special proceedings filed pursuant to RPAPL Article 7A: special proceedings to remedy conditions dangerous to life, health or safety.

L&T proceedings are specialized and procedural rules must be followed strictly.

Do I need an attorney for an L&T case?

This Court strongly recommends that you retain an attorney. Proceedings to recover real property require knowledge of the law and familiarity with local rules and practices.

If are an individual person who is the homeowner and landlord, and you wish to proceed without an attorney, you will be responsible for preparing your papers in accordance with the law without any assistance from the Court Clerk or the court staff.

Businesses must have an attorney appear for them in Court.

What forms do I need to start an L&T case?

Usually a NOTICE OF PETITION and a PETITION.

For Non-Payment proceedings

For Holdover proceedings

For other kinds of evictions, a NOTICE OF PETITION and PETITION would need to be drafted by an attorney.
How do I fill out these forms?

If you wish to proceed without an attorney, you will be responsible for preparing your papers in accordance with the law, without assistance from the court staff.

Forms must be completed using BLACK ink only and submitted in duplicate to the Court Clerk for signature. You must pay a filing fee and get an index number. The Court Clerk will assist you in setting a court date in order to ensure that Court will be in session.

A NOTICE OF PETITION must be issued by an attorney or the Court Clerk to compel the appearance of the tenant in Court. The Court Clerk will review your forms if you have no attorney and sign the NOTICE OF PETITION only if the papers are correct.

Do I need to do anything before I file papers with the Court?

Probably. There may be specific legal prerequisites to the institution of your proceeding to recover real property (such as a 3 day notice or 30 day notice). You should consult with an attorney or refer to the Real Property Law or Real Property Actions & Proceedings Law to be sure you have met all requirements.

A Non-payment Summary Proceeding usually is preceded by the landlord demanding that the tenant pay the rent, either in writing or orally.

A Holdover Summary Proceeding is usually preceded by the landlord informing the tenant to leave by a certain date, either in writing or orally.

How does the Tenant find out about the court date?

The landlord or the landlord's attorney finds a process server to serve a copy of the papers filed with the Court on each tenant.

Professional process servers may be found in the phone book or online. A copy of the papers must be served by someone over the age of 18, who is not a party to the action. Service must be in full compliance with the law.

The respondent/tenant must be given no less than 5 days notice and no more than 12 days notice of the court date. If the papers are handed directly to the tenant (personal delivery) the 5 day period is counted from the actual date of service. If the papers are served on the defendant by any other type of personal service, the 5 days are counted from the date the papers were filed with the Court along with proof of service.

After each tenant is served with a copy of the papers, the process server must swear on a form called an AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE as to how the the papers were served. Proof of service must be filed with the clerk within 3 days of effecting service.

What should I bring to Court on the court date?

Bring with you all evidence necessary to prove your claim or your defense. Anything that will help prove the facts in dispute should be brought to Court. This includes written agreements, leases, receipts and photographs. Originals (not photocopies) may be required, if available. All public documents must be certified by the agency producing such documents (a certification is a statement that the documents are true copies of an agency's records - the agency should be able to tell you how to get the records certified).

Landlords should bring:

  • the original or certified copy of the deed to the building
  • the lease or written agreement for the party you are suing, if there is one
  • certified copies of registration statements (like the town's rent registration, or a multiple dwelling registration statement)
  • your record keeping book
  • any other documents that are relevant to the claims you are making
  • witnesses (like a superintendent, manager, or mechanic who can testify as to attempts to gain access and/or attempts to repair conditions, if conditions are an issue)

Tenants should bring:

  • rent receipts, checks or other proof of rent payments
  • the lease or written agreement for the apartment, if you have one
  • photographs of any conditions you are claiming
  • heat charts, if heat is an issue and you kept a record
  • receipts or bills for any money you claim you spent
  • any other documents that are relevant to your defense or to the claims you are making
  • witnesses (like a friend or neighbor who has seen a condition complained of, if conditions are an issue)
What happens in Court on the court date?

Check to make sure your case is on the calendar, posted in the courthouse. You will need your index number to find the case on the calendar.

At the call of the calendar in the courtroom, identify yourself. If all parties are present, the Judge will probably request that you try to settle the case - a voluntary, binding agreement that resolves the differences between the parties to a lawsuit. It is put in writing in a document called a stipulation. In a settlement you can help determine the outcome of a case. However, no one can force you to settle a case. Also, no case should be settled unless and until the settlement has been reviewed by a Judge and you understand the terms of the agreement.

If you cannot settle the case, the Judge will have a hearing.

Generally, the landlord presents his or her case first. After being sworn as a witness, the landlord or the landlord’s managing agent will tell his or her version of the claims in the case. The landlord may offer certain documents into evidence. When the landlord or the person on the landlord’s behalf has finished testifying, the tenant has the right to ask questions. This is called cross-examination. Sometimes a Judge may ask some questions to clarify matters. Other witnesses can be presented in support of the landlord’s claims, and they, too can be cross-examined by the tenant or may be asked questions by the Judge.

The tenant will then be sworn as a witness and tell his or her side of the story and present evidence. When the tenant has finished testifying, the landlord has the right to cross-examine the tenant. Sometimes a Judge may ask some questions to clarify matters. Other witnesses can be presented in support of the tenant’s claims, and they, too, can be cross-examined by the landlord or may be asked questions by the Judge.

Parties to a lawsuit have a right to object to the introduction of evidence or the way a question is being asked or answered. The proper way to object is to say “objection.” The Judge may then ask what the basis for the objection is. If the Judge agrees with the objection, the Judge will say “sustained” and the evidence will not be admitted. If the Judge disagrees with the objection, the Judge will say “overruled” and the evidence will be admitted.

What happens at the conclusion of my L&T case?

If the landlord wins, a summary proceeding concludes with a judgment, which is a prerequisite for issuing a WARRANT OF EVICTION. A WARRANT OF EVICTION is comparable to an execution in a civil action. After a WARRANT OF EVICTION is issued by the court (you must request it - see below - and you receive it in the mail) you must file it with the Suffolk County Sheriff. The Suffolk County Sheriff must give at least 72 hours notice (a 72 HOUR NOTICE) before evicting a respondent from the premises.

How do I request a Judgment and Warrant?
Attorneys must file a proposed JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION (like the Blumberg T-1412, T-1413, or T-1414) and WARRANT OF EVICTION (like the Blumberg T-1408 or T-1409) with the Court Clerk. The Court will generate the appropriate papers. Attorneys may submit a proposed MONEY JUDGMENT and pay the fee for a TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT at the time the WARRANT and JUDGMENT are submitted, and the Clerk will issue the TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT to be used in enforcing any money judgment.

Self-represented landlords must Adobe Acrobat PDF Document request in writing that the court issue the JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION, WARRANT OF EVICTION, and TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT. If the tenant/respondent is in default, a non-military affidavit will be required. If a TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT is requested the transcript fee must be paid when the request is filed with the Court Clerk.

Include a stamped self-addressed envelope with the proposed papers or written request. The Clerk will mail the papers to the attorney of record or if there is no attorney, to the self-represented landlord.

Can I evict my son / girlfriend / roommate?

Possibly, with the assistance of an attorney drawing up the correct papers.

The forms referred to above are intended for a landlord to evict a tenant. If the person you want to evict is not a tenant, or if you are not the landlord, you may be able to evict them, but not with these court forms. You may be able to evict someone other than a tenant if an attorney is able to draft papers and file the appropriate action (like those listed in RPAPL §713 and RPAPL §715).

Can a tenant bring a landlord to Court?

Yes, under certain circumstances, a tenant can bring a landlord to L&T Court. The NYS Attorney General's Tenants' Rights Guide has additional information.

  1. A tenant may bring a summary proceeding to recover possession of premises from which he or she has been forcibly put out or kept out (RPAPL §721(4)). A tenant must bring such a proceeding within three years of ouster (RPAPL §713(10)).
  2. New York Real Property Actions & Proceedings Article 7-A - (§§769 - 783) addresses special proceedings brought by tenants of dwellings in Suffolk County. Pursuant to RPAPL Article 7A, one third or more of tenants occupying a multiple dwelling located in Suffolk county may petition the Court to have an administrator appointed to manage the premises. This type of proceeding is complicated and retaining an attorney is suggested.

Your rights would best be protected with the assistance of an attorney. You can contact the Suffolk County Bar Association for a free or low-fee consult. You might also contact Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and Long Island Housing Services, Inc for assistance.

A tenant might sue a landlord in Small Claims Court if money is owed after the tenant has moved out of the rental.

I have been served with eviction papers. What do I do?

You must appear in court on the date and time stated in the Notice of Petition served on you.

If the eviction is based on the non-payment of rent, you may pay the landlord the full amount demanded in the petition. This will end the eviction proceeding.

If the petition is for non-payment of rent, please seePDF fileTenant Questions & Answers: Nonpayment Eviction Cases in New York State.

If you were served with a holdover petition, please seePDF fileTenant Questions & Answers: Holdover Eviction Cases in New York State.

Your rights would best be protected with the assistance of an attorney. You can contact the Suffolk County Bar Association for a free or low-fee consult. You might also contact Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and Long Island Housing Services, Inc for assistance.

What happens if I am a tenant and I do not appear in Court after receiving a NOTICE OF PETITION?

If the landlord or the landlord's attorney tells the Court you were served, and you do not appear as directed, the case will be decided without you, and you may have a DEFAULT JUDGMENT against you.

A WARRANT OF EVICTION may be issued.

A judgment for unpaid rent and fees may also be entered against you.

After the WARRANT OF EVICTION is filed with the Sheriff, a Deputy Sheriff will post a 72 HOUR NOTICE for you to leave the premises.

When the WARRANT OF EVICTION is enforced, the Sheriff will return and remove you and your personal property.

How do I ask a Judge to vacate a default judgment and stay my eviction?

Go to Court and submit a request for the Judge to sign an Order to Show Cause to Vacate a Landlord Tenant Judgment.

You can get these forms from

You must explain to the Judge in your papers that you have
  • a good reason for not appearing in Court, AND
  • a good defense to the lawsuit
Bring photocopies of documents that help you prove your arguments.

Post-Judgment & Other "After Court"

What is a judgment?

A judgment is the determination by a judge or arbitrator after a hearing or trial.

A judgment is generally for an amount of money. However, a judgment may also include a warrant of eviction, an order to perform a specific task, or it may be a judgment dismissing the matter.

Usually "having a judgment against you" means a money judgment from a court has been filed with the County Clerk.

What is default judgment?

A default judgment is ordered by the court if the defendant does not appear for trial.

A default judgment may also be entered by the clerk if the defendant fails to answer a summons.

A default judgment is fully enforceable and has the same effect as a judgment after trial.

I won a judgment! How do I collect it?

You (the Judgment Creditor) may contact the party you won the judgment against (the Judgment Debtor) and request payment.

If they are unwilling to pay, you may attempt to enforce the judgment (below).

The Court Clerk cannot satisfy your judgment.

How do I enforce a money judgment?

You may request a document called a Transcript of Judgment from the Court Clerk for a fee. File the sealed Transcript of Judgment with the Suffolk County Clerk's Office. The Suffolk County Clerk's Office will charge a filing fee.

Property Execution and Income Execution are two options for enforcement of the judgment through the Sheriff’s Office. You may choose to start either or both processes when you file the Transcript of Judgment with the County Clerk.

Contact the Suffolk County Clerk's Office (631) 852-2000 ext 800 for information on how to obtain an Income Execution Form or a Property Execution Form.

You will file the Execution Form with the Suffolk County Sheriff. Contact the Civil Bureau, Enforcement Division, Office of the Sheriff at (631) 852-5600. The office is at 360 Yaphank Ave Yaphank NY 11980. The Sheriff will attempt to enforce the judgment based on the information and documents you file.

Additional enforcement options may exist; contact an attorney to explore other options.

What is an information subpoena?

An Information Subpoena is a kind of subpoena used to discover the assets of a judgment debtor. An Information Subpoena is prepared by an attorney. If you did not have an attorney, you may request the Court Clerk to issue an Information Subpoena for you.

I just found out that I have a judgment against me. I did not know that I was being sued. What do I do?

If you feel that you do not owe all or part of the judgment, you may contact the court which issued the judgment. To ask the Judge to place the case back on the court's calendar (and contest the judgment in court) you may file an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate Landlord & Tenant default judgment or an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment with the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentaffidavit in support of an Order to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment.

If you feel that you owe the amount of the judgment, you should contact the attorney for the plaintiff to make arrangements to pay the judgment.

What is an Order to Show Cause?

An Order to Show Cause is a method that a party may use to request that the court reopen their case, usually after a default judgment has been entered. A default judgment can be entered if a defendant fails to answer a summons, or fails to appear for trial or hearing.

This process temporarily stops the enforcement of a judgment and sets a time for the plaintiff to challenge the defendant's request to start over.

An Order to Show Cause is commenced and answered in writing. If you are supposed to appear in court, the order will write on the order that personal appearance is required and testimony will be taken. If the court sets a new court date for trial, both sides will be notified by mail.

Forms to prepare an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate Landlord & Tenant judgment or a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment with the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentaffidavit in support of an Order to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment are available in the clerk's office where the judgment was entered.

Can I appeal?

You may appeal an order or judgment of the court provided that the order or judgment was not obtained by default.

An arbitrator's award cannot be appealed, but you may request a trial de novo before a judge.

A default judgment cannot be appealed, but a party in default may request that the action be restored by Order to Show Cause (see above).

To file an appeal, you must prepare and serve a Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Notice of Appeal on the opposing parties, and then file the Notice of Appeal with the Court Clerk (in the court where the order or judgment was entered) with proof of service. A fee is required for filing the Notice of Appeal on a Civil, Landlord-Tenant, Small Claim or Commercial Small Claim action. 

An appeal can be a complicated process. There are specific time frames for completing the appeal prior to sending it to the Appellate Term. Additionally, the appeal may require oral argument before the Judges of the Appellate Term.  The Court Clerk recommends consulting or hiring an attorney to assist you.

Criminal Court

When does the Clerk's Office open for business?

The public windows (located on the 2nd floor of the Cohalan Court Complex) open for business Monday - Friday at 8:30 a.m. All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.

When and where are arraignments held?

When and where are arraignments held?

Arraignments of defendants "in-custody" (arrested and held by the police) are conducted every day of the year in Courtroom D-11 at 9:30 AM. Arraignments of defendants given Desk Appearance Tickets or Field Appearance Tickets are conducted regular court days in the scheduled "Street Arraignment" (SAP) courtrooms.

Violations of Town Ordinances or Town Codes are arraigned on certain days of the week in the outlying courthouses.

 

When is my next court date?

Your next court date was written on a blue "Notice to Appear" form at your last court date.

If you know the name of the defendant, or the docket number of the case, use WebCrims. This system does not show Bench or Arrest Warrants or finished cases.

To search by name, you need to know at least the first three letters of the defendants last name and the first two letters of the defendants first name. When searching by "calendar," choose "Criminal Court" for Court field, use the courtroom number for Court Part field (for example, D31 or D44), not the Judge Name.

If you think the case is still open, and you cannot find the next date with WebCrims, you should call the court at 631 208-5775 to speak to court staff during normal business hours, or see below regarding vacating warrants.

Can I get a new court date by phone?

No. Adjournment requests are not considered by phone, fax or e-mail.

I really cannot get to court on my court date. What can I do?

Unless the Judge has excused your appearance, you are required to appear at each and every court date. If you do not appear, the judge may issue a warrant for your immediate arrest.

If an emergency requires you to miss your upcoming court date, you may write a letter to the Judge explaining your situation (send a copy to the District Attorney's Office). The Judge may consider your note when your case is called, and may adjourn your case to another day and not issue a warrant. You might be notified by mail of the new court date.

I don't think I can afford an attorney. How can I get Legal Aid?

You may ask the Judge on your court date to assign a Legal Aid Society attorney to represent you. Generally, you are eligible for free Legal representation if you fall below the US Department of Health & Human Services Poverty Guidelines.

How can I vacate a warrant?

You may request to voluntarily vacate a warrant by submitting an
Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentApplication to Vacate District Court Warrant (form DC-320-A) to the Clerk's Office public information windows before 11:00 AM any regular business day. A list (the "warrant vacate" calendar) is posted at the 2nd floor waiting area (usually before noon), and you must appear in the courtroom indicated to vacate the warrant.

If the warrant is for Town Ordinance violation (which are calendared in the outlying District Court courthouses), for County Court, or for a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentTown or Village Court in Suffolk County, you must go to that courthouse to voluntarily vacate your warrant.

Can I view a Court Calendar online?

Anyone can view today's calendared cases and any future calendars on the WebCrims site. Log in as Guest.

Past calendars are not available to the public on the internet. Other agencies may view completed calendars through our secure site.

What are my rights as a crime victim or witness?

Many innocent persons or their dependents may suffer disability, incur financial hardships, become dependent upon public assistance, or suffer personal physical injury or death as a result of criminal acts. Aid, care and support is provided by the state for such victims of crime, through the New York State Crime Victims Board.

More information about the rights of a crime victim and witnesses ...

What are my rights as a victim of Domestic Violence?

The resources available in your community for information relating to domestic violence, treatment of injuries, and places of safety and shelters can be accessed by calling the following toll-free numbers for the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906 (in Spanish: 1-800-942-6908).

More information about the rights of a victim of Domestic Violence ...

How do I get an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a court order requiring a person to refrain from doing certain acts against another person.

If you are a victim or a witness, you should contact the District Attorney's Office.

In District Court, a criminal action must be filed with the court (which usually means the defendant was arrested or given an appearance ticket, and the complaints were filed with the court by the police). A victim or witness may request an order of protection when the person is arraigned - the District Attorney in the courtroom will need to know before the arraignment that you want an Order of Protection.

If you need an Order of Protection and the person was issued an appearance ticket (released from the police and told to appear on a future date for arraignment in court), get a copy of the police report and complaint from the officer or the precinct, and inform the police that you want an Order of Protection. The police will need to file paperwork with the court before you can get an Order of Protection from the court.

If you need an Order of Protection and the person was not arrested or not charged with any crime or offense, call the police to file a complaint. If you are related to or live with the person, you might be a victim of Domestic Violence.

What are my rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?

How can I change the conditions of my Order of Protection?

If you are the defendant (the enjoined party on an Order of Protection), and your case is still pending, and you want to change the conditions of an Order of Protection, you must consult with your attorney.

If you are a witness or victim (a protected party on an Order of Protection), and the case is still pending, and you want to modify the conditions on an Order of Protection, you must contact the District Attorney's Office (See also What are my rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?)

If the defendant was convicted, pled guilty, or otherwise has an order of protection and no future court date, and you want to modify the terms of the order of protection, you may submit a written request to the court - appear at window #2 in room D220 in the Cohalan Court Complex during normal business hours. Based on your written request, the case will be restored to the calendar for a future date, when the judge will decide if the Order of Protection should be modified.

How can I post bail?

Once the Court has set bail, bail must be posted in one of the forms ordered (usually cash or insurance company bail bond), and in the amount set, in order to get out of jail.

Search a list of Bail Bond agents may be found at the NY State Department of Financial Services website.

A credit card (Visa or MasterCard) may be used to post bail if the Court specifically authorizes credit card bail.

The Sheriff's Office may be able to assist the defendant post bail from money carried at the time of arrest. Bail Expeditors at the jail may be able to help the defendant contact someone to post bail. Family or friends may post bail in the courthouse if the defendant is still in the courthouse. If the defendant is on the way to, or is already at the jail, bail must be posted at the jail.

How do I get bail money back?

Once the court case is disposed (when the case is dismissed, or the defendant is convicted and sentenced), and the defendant made all court appearances as directed, bail is exonerated and returned to the person who posted the bail, minus a 3% fee. The process generally takes eight weeks after the case is disposed and the money is returned. Bail money is returned from the Suffolk County Treasurer.

If the defendant did not appear in court as directed, and a warrant was issued, bail was forfeited. You might be able to get the bail money back if the Court orders the bail remitted after a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentCPL540.30 motion.

How can I make payment of a fine?

You may pay fines, surcharges, and fees:

  • by mail by timely mailing a check or money order payable to the Clerk of the District Court. If your check is not honored by the bank, there will be an additional $20 fee and the immediate entry of a default judgment.
  • in person at the courthouse on or before the "to pay" date at window 5, 6, or 7 in room D220 (on the second floor) by cash, check, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard - with photo identification).
Can I get additional time to pay a fine?

Generally, yes. Depending on the sentencing judge, you might need to appear in the courtroom to ask the judge for more time to pay.

What happens if I do not pay the fine or fees?

Generally, if you do not pay the fine or fee, the Court (on behalf of the People of the State of New York) enters a judgment against you in the County Clerk's office and suspends your drivers license.

The court may also issue a warrant for your arrest.

If you do not pay a fine imposed by the court, within the time ordered, you may be imprisoned.

If you are unable to pay a fine, you may ask the court, to be resentenced.

The Court may not waive certain surcharges or fees. You may tell the court that payment of the surcharges or fees will be an unreasonable hardship on you or your immediate family, and the court may defer payment and enter a civil judgment.

You may be imprisoned for up to fifteen days for your failure to pay certain surcharges and fees.

If you do not pay what you owe, or if you do not appear in court to request more time to pay, a civil judgment against you will be entered and docketed with the Suffolk County Clerk (or the Clerk of the County in which you reside), and your drivers license may be suspended, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

 

How do I get an official record of what happened to my court case?

You might need a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript. You can buy one from the court by coming to the courthouse - bring photo identification, $5, and as much information about the case you can get (case or docket number, date of disposition, offenses charged, date of arrest, copies of charges, etc).

You may also request a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript by mail - follow the instructions on form Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentDC-411.

If the case was sealed, you may need additional paperwork, for example,

  • if you were adjudicated a Youthful Offender, you need a Court Order to release the transcript - submit Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-75 with DC-411 ;
  • if your case was terminated in your favor and sealed (like after an acquittal or dismissal), and you want a Certified Transcript of Certificate of Disposition mailed to you, you need to submit Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-412 with DC-411;
  • if the case was sealed after an acquittal or dismissed and sealed, and you want to authorize someone to be your agent to access the sealed records, you need to submit Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-413 with DC-411 .
How do I appeal?

Within 30 days from the date of sentence, you or your attorney must file 2 copies of a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal with the Appeals Clerk, Suffolk County District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722; and you must serve one copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal on the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Bureau, Cromarty Criminal Court Complex, 200 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY 11901.

If you appeared before the court pro se (without an attorney, self-represented, or on your own behalf), and you timely indicate in writing to the Clerk of the Court (see the bottom of the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-16) a desire to appeal, the Clerk will prepare and serve and file an appropriate notice on your behalf.

You have the right, upon proof of your financial inability to retain counsel and to pay the costs and expenses of the appeal, to apply to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, for the assignment of counsel, for leave to prosecute the appeal as a poor person, and to dispense with printing costs.

Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentWritten instructions for perfecting a criminal appeal are available from the Appellate Term Clerks Office. You must perfect your appeal within 120 days from the date of sentence.

How do I get a verbatim transcript of a court proceeding?

(A verbatim transcript is a printed version of everything said at a court proceeding. A clerk's transcript of judgment is a court form, usually filed with the county clerk to collect money from a person).

When requesting a verbatim transcript, you should have the

  • name of the case,
  • case number,
  • location of the proceeding, and
  • date of the proceeding,
  • and time stamp or meter reading of the proceeding (if a digital recording machine was used).

Most court proceedings are recorded either by a Court Reporter sitting in the courtroom writing down what is said in the courtroom or by a digital recording machine.

To have a transcript produced of a District Court proceeding which was recorded by a Court Reporter:

  • tell the reporter at the proceeding that you need a transcript, or
  • call the court reporters office (631)853-5418, or
  • fax your request to the court reporters office (631) 853-7854 .

To have a transcript produced of an electronically recorded court proceeding, you may contact one of the transcription services listed on the list of Electronic Recording Transcription Services. This PDF filelist of transcription services may also be found at courthouse public information windows.

These services are not employees of the Unified Court System, they are independent contractors and establish their own rates - price per page varies. They will either take the required information and contact the Court, or ask you to contact the court and arrange to have the recording sent to the contractor.

If you have any questions regarding a verbatim transcript from a Suffolk County District Court matter, please contact: Ron Gorman, Supervising Court Reporter, (631) 853-5418.

What is a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities and how can I get one?

A certificate of relief from civil disabilities relieves an "eligible offender" of forfeitures, disabilities, or bars to employment automatically imposed be law by reason of a conviction of a specified crime or offense.

You may apply to the State Parole Board (if you are on parole) or the court where you were sentenced for a certificate. More information, including an DPCA-52 Application for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

How can I get a Criminal History Report?

The New York State Office of Court Administration provides a statewide criminal history record search, based on exact match of name and date of birth. The search includes data from all 62 counties pertaining to convictions and open or pending cases in the City, District, County and Supreme criminal courts. Town & Village criminal information is limited.

If you are a defendant, you or your attorney may apply for a NYS Record Review from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (518 485-7675).

You may request a Suffolk County Criminal Records Search for yourself or someone else through the Suffolk Police Department's Central Records (631 852-6015).

How do I schedule a video conference with a defendant in jail?

Call 852-3356 - the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office.

Attorneys may make arrangements to talk to their clients who are in custody in the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead and the Yaphank Correctional Facility via video conference by calling the Office of the Sheriff at 631-852-3356. Video conferences may be scheduled for either that same day or for a date in the future. The meetings will be scheduled at fifteen minute increments starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 3:45 p.m.

Attorneys interested in video conferencing must go to the Cohalan Court Complex in Central lslip or the Cromarty Court Complex in Riverhead. An attorney scheduled for a video conference at the Cohalan Court Complex should ontact the Court Officer assigned to the fourth floor of the District Court Building in order to gain access to the video conference room. If you are unable to access the video conference room or make contact with a Court Officer dial 853-4630. At the Cromarty Court Complex they should check-in at the clerk's window on the second floor. Attorneys may be required to produce identification and sign a log.

Every effort will be made to produce defendants in as little as one hour; however unexpected occurrences may delay appointment start times and or duration.

lf you have any questions regarding the use of the system or wish to see the facilities which attorneys will be using, please contact Major Len Badia at (631) 853-4630.

 

How can I waive the production of my client from the jail?

Attorneys of record may request their incarcerated client is produced in court "paperwork only" (the defendant will not be transported
to the courthouse for the court appearance) by faxing the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentDC-423 form: Notice of appearance and waiver of production to (631) 853-7599.

May students observe arraignments or trials?
Yes, unless the Judge has sealed the courtroom, the public may observe any criminal proceeding in any District Court courtroom.  If you are interested in a jury trial, check with the central jury room on the 2nd floor, District Court building, and ask one of the staff if there is a jury trial scheduled.  If you want to observe arraignments of defendants that are in police custody, go to courtroom D11 on the first (ground) floor.

When you enter a courtroom, try to get the attention of the Court Clerk or a Court Officer and explain that you are observing for a class project.

Reading the criminal justice system handbook and this criminal court FAQ page before you come to court will help you understand what is going on in the courtroom.

Parking Tickets

When does the Clerk's Office open for business?

The public windows (located on the 2nd floor of the Cohalan Court Complex) open for business Monday - Friday at 8:30 a.m. All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.

When must I appear in court?

Your parking ticket will tell you the last date that you must answer your ticket, either by mail or in person. If you come to the courthouse on or before that date, you will speak to a clerk and either get a trial date or plead guilty.

If you have not answered your parking ticket by the date written on the ticket, the court will mail a notice to you giving you a date that you must respond.

If you do not respond a default sentence will be imposed against you, and a judgment filed with the clerk of your county of residence as a lien, and your license and registration may be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

How can I get a new court date?

You may mail a request for a new court date. Address your correspondence to Parking Division Clerk, 1st District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722

Can I view a Court Calendar or case information online?

Not at this time - the parking calendars are not available online (calendars and case information for criminal court cases - heard in the same District Court building in Central Islip - are available on the WebCrims site. Log in as Guest).

Past calendars are not available to the public on the internet. Other agencies may view completed calendars for the entire District Court through our secure site.

How do I plead "guilty" and pay my fine?

Indicate guilty on the back of the ticket, sign the ticket and carefully print your name and address, and include payment. The parking ticket should indicate the set fine amount. If it does not, look up the minimum fine acceptable for the section of law violated in the chart below.

Indicate the ticket number on your check or money order, payable to the “First District Court.” Do not send cash.

Dishonored checks will result in the immediate entry of a default judgment with an additional $20 returned check fee.

At this time there is no way to pay "online" or by telephone.

You may pay the fine by credit card by appearing in person with photo identification.

MINIMUM FINE ACCEPTABLE FOR PARKING OFFENSES
Vehicle & Traffic Law (VTL) section
Fine
306(b) uninspected vehicle under 60 days
$50
306(b) uninspected vehicle over 60 days
$90
375 parking equipment violation
$50
385(3)(e) parked trailer on residential street
$200
402(1) improper plates
$50
402(3) unregistered trailer
$100
402(6) unregistered vehicle
$100
403 proper registration sticker not affixed
$50
403-a false temporary registration
$100
411.1 parked motorcycle on public highway without a license plate
$50
1100(c) blocked handicapped access non-shopping centers only
$90
1111 disobey pavement markings
$50
any 1200 . . . . . . . . . . . .
$50
any 1201 . . . . . . . . . . . .
$50
any 1202 . . . . . . . . . . . .
$50
1203(a) parking/stopped/standing 12 inches from curb or improper angle parking
$50
1203(b) parking/stopped/standing 12 inches from curb or improper angle parking
$50
1203(c) parked in wrong direction
$50
1203(d)1 parked on highway for sale
$50
1203(d)2 parked on highway for non-emergency repair
$50
1203-b(2) handicapped parking no permit - street or non-shopping center parking lot
$120
1203-c(4) handicapped parking no permit - blocking access to handicapped parking - shopping center or strip mall
$230
2264.1 improper plate, limited use vehicle
$50
 
Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation Law
(PRL or PRHPL or NYCRR 9) section
Fine
any 378.1 any parking violation in a State Park
$50

 

How do I plead "not guilty" by mail?

Indicate “not guilty” on the back of your ticket, sign the ticket and carefully print your name and address.

Mail the ticket to the court as specified on the ticket. You will be notified of a date for pretrial conference and/or trial.

Your not guilty plea must be postmarked within 48 hours of the time the ticket was issued. If the plea is not timely you will be notified of a date to appear to enter a plea in person.

Other than as allowed for handicapped parking tickets below, you may not submit proof by mail. All proof that you are “not guilty” must be presented in court, in person, while you are under oath before a judicial officer of this court.

I was ticketed for parking in handicapped parking, but I have a valid handicapped parking permit. Can't I submit something to the court?

Yes. If you received a parking ticket for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space, and at that time the driver or a passenger had a valid handicapped parking permit for the vehicle, you can submit an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentEx parte motion to dismiss handicapped parking ticket, supporting affidavit, and consent to adjudication by a Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO) (form DC-422). With the form, along with a photocopy of the ticket, you must include

  • a photocopy of the permit,
  • a letter from the town or other issuing agency stating that the handicapped permit was valid on the date the ticket was issued,
  • a photocopy of the permit holder's driver’s license (or some other photo identification if unlicensed), and a
  • a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The form is an affidavit and must be sworn to and signed in the presence of a notary or a court clerk. The submitted form is treated as a motion to dismiss the ticket. The court will notify you by mail if the motion was granted and the ticket was dismissed, or if the motion was denied and you must appear on a future date.

How can I pay a parking fine?

You may pay fines, surcharges, and fees:

  • by timely mailing your parking ticket with your plea of guilty and either a check or money order payable to the Clerk of the District Court. If your check is not honored by the bank, there will be an additional $20 fee and the immediate entry of a default judgment.
  • in person at the courthouse on or before the "to pay" date at window 5, 6, or 7 in room D220 (on the second floor) by cash, check, money order or credit card (Visa or MasterCard - with photo identification).
Can I get additional time to pay a fine?

Generally, yes. Depending on the sentencing judge, you might need to appear in the courtroom to ask for more time to pay.

What happens if I do not pay the parking fine?

Generally, if you do not pay the fine, the Court (in the name of the People of the State of New York) enters a judgment against you in the County Clerk's office.

The court may also suspend your drivers license and your vehicle registration.

How do I get an official record of what happened to my court case?

You might need a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript. You can buy one from the court by coming to the courthouse - bring photo identification, $5, and as much information about the case you can get (case or docket number, date of disposition, offenses charged, date of arrest, copies of charges, etc).

You may also request a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript by mail - follow the instructions on form Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentDC-411.

If the case was sealed, you may need additional paperwork, for example,

  • if your case was terminated in your favor and sealed (like after an acquittal or dismissal), and you want a Certified Transcript of Certificate of Disposition mailed to you, you need to submitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document form DC-412 with DC-411
  • if the case was sealed after an acquittal or dismissed and sealed, and you want to authorize someone to be your agent to access the sealed records, you need to submitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document form DC-413 with DC-411.
How do I appeal?

You or your attorney must file 2 copies of a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal with the Appeals Clerk, Suffolk County District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722, and you must serve one copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal on the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Appeals Bureau, Cromarty Criminal Court Complex, 200 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY 11901, within 30 days from the date of sentence.

If you appeared before the court pro se (without an attorney, self-represented, or on your own behalf), and you timely indicate in writing to the Clerk of the Court a desire to appeal (see the bottom of the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-16), the Clerk will prepare and serve and file an appropriate notice on your behalf.

You have the right, upon proof of your financial inability to retain counsel and to pay the costs and expenses of the appeal, to apply to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, for the assignment of counsel, for leave to prosecute the appeal as a poor person, and to dispense with printing costs.

Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentWritten instructions for perfecting a criminal appeal are available from the Appellate Term Clerks Office. You must perfect your appeal within 120 days from the date of sentence.