Guide to Queens Criminal Court
By Don Murray, Esq.
The following guide contains nuts and bolts information about Criminal Court in Queens County as well as general information about the criminal justice process in Queens and how it works.
The first section, Coming to Court, will help you find the Courthouse, find a particular courtroom, find a place to eat lunch in the courthouse area, and more.
The second section, The Process in Queens, will provide a guided tour of the criminal justice process in Queens County, including an interactive map of the Queens arraignment courtroom.
When to Come to Criminal Court in New York City
You are usually expected to be in Court (not waiting on line or in the hall) at 9:30 AM. Understand that as a general rule, this is not a time that is unique to you. It is not an appointment. The position of the Court is that you are responsible for getting into the courtroom by 9:30 so that the Court can call the cases in the order it chooses. The truth of the matter is that cases are called, as a general rule, in the order in which they are signed in by the lawyers. That means that if you get to court at 9:30, but your lawyer doesn't show up until 12 noon, you won't be called unti 12 noon.
That means that you must leave time to find parking (if you are driving), to wait on line, and to find the right Courtroom.
The line to get in the Courthouse is unpredictable. Some days you might have no wait at all before you get to walk through the metal detectors and others you might have to stand on a line that stretches around the block.
Finally, if you haven't been to the Courtroom before, plan on spending a few minutes figuring out where you need to go. You might want to ask your lawyer before the Court Date where to go.
Different judges have different attitudes about your presence at 9:30 precisely. Although it is your responsibility to be in Court at the time directed by the Judge, as a practical matter most judges understand that occasionally traffic is bad, the lines are long, and things can happen. In many cases, judges are so busy dealing with the cases of people who are already present that your lateness may not even be noticed. Most judges do not take a "roll call" at 9:30 AM.
Be aware however, that in some degree, you are playing with fire by appearing later than 9:30 AM. In theory, it could be noticed, and in theory a judge could decide to set, raise, or eliminate bail on you for failing to come to Court "on time." Judges have different attitudes about lateness and the excuses they are willing to accept. One former Supreme Court Judge in Queens was notorious for setting bail on just about anyone appearing after 9:30 AM.
Kew Gardens - All the Criminal Courtrooms in Queens are now located at 125-01 Queens Blvd., next to Borough Hall. Queens Criminal Court is easily accessible by subway, car, and bus.
Go to the UNION TURNPIKE subway station. The two main lines stopping at Union Turnpike are the E and F lines.
Coming from the direction of New York City, get out at the front of the train and exit in the direction of the train, bearing to your left up the stairs to Queens Blvd. Continue walking down Queens Blvd. away from the direction of Manhattan. You will walk by Borough Hall. Keep going until you get to the next big building across a small street. In front of the building is a large sculpture with a top that spins in the wind. This is Criminal Court.
Coming from the direction of Jamaica, Queens, get out at the back of the train and exit up and out back toward the direction of Jamaica. Bear left up the stairs to Queens Blvd. Continue walking down Queens Blvd. away from the direction of Manhattan. You will walk by Borough Hall. Keep going until you get to the next big building across a small street. In front of the building is a large sculpture with a top that spins in the wind. This is Criminal Court.
Generally, by car the Kew Gardens Courthouse can be easily reached off the Grand Central Parkway (Eastbound, Queens Blvd. exit) or off the Van Wyck Expressway (going toward Kennedy Airport take the Union Turnpike Exit, coming from direction of Kennedy Airport take Queens Blvd. exit)
By Bus-- The Q60, Q37, Q74 and Q46 buses all have stops in close proximity to the Courthouse.
Queens Criminal Court Parking
It is probably easiest to park in the Municipal parking lot maintained between the Courthouse and Borough Hall. You will always be able to find a place to park.
In the Courthouse area you will find a few other garages, like one located in the Silver Towers building across from Court, but they are generally more expensive than the Municipal Lot.
These days (May, 2013) the Municipal Lot by the Courthouse costs around $11 to park for any significant period of time. That's about the same as the nearby garages.
Another option is to park on the street somewhere in the area. You may well spend a good deal of time looking for a spot. Competition for parking on the street is fierce, and beware the mysterious parking rules. The Kew Gardens area is alive with ticket officers waiting to write you a ticket. Good luck.
Lunch in the Queens Criminal Courthouse Area
The Courthouse lunch period is from 1PM to 2PM.
If you want a slice of the best pizza around the courthouse (in my opinion anyway), visit La Rondine on Queens Blvd., across the street from Borough Hall and just a half a block west of the Criminal Court building. There is seating, but during lunch it may get crowded. The place is a Courthouse favorite. You will be eating pizza near prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, court officers, police, and jurors. It is crowded because it is good. You can't beat La Rondine. Telephone number: (718) 793-2556. La Rondine Menu.
Across the street from the Criminal Courthouse and half a block west, you will find A Subway, a Dunkin Donuts, and a McDonalds.
Also across the street from the Courthouse and half a block west, you will find a Deli where you can pick up sandwiches and all manner of other lunch foods.
What to wear to Court
If you are charged with a crime and must appear in Court, dress decently. Once you are in front of a jury, dress may become more important, but the same basic principle applies: Dress decently.
You don't have to wear an Armani suit. You don't have win a fashion contest. If you are a person who goes to Church, wear what you wear when you go to Church. Show the Court that you thought about where you were going.
How to Avoid Conflict with Court Officers
As a general rule you don't want to cause conflict with the Court Officers while you are in Court waiting for your case to be called. Conflict with the Court Officers can actually lead to your arrest in extreme circumstances. In less extreme circumstances you can be ordered out of the courtroom. You can also find yourself made the "last case of the day" which will condemn you to wait around until about 4:30 or so for your case to be called.
The following are a list of activities that may cause conflict with Court Officers:
- Reading newspapers, books, or anything else
- Slouching too much in the bench
- Talking with others (an occasional whisper is not usually a problem, but no loud talking)
- Eating, drinking, or chewing gum
- Making noise
- Cell Phone Going Off in Court
Avoiding the above list of activities will go a long way toward avoiding conflict with the Court Officers. It is a good idea to avoid conflict with the Court Officers.
It is always your responsibility to come to Court when you are supposed to. If you miss your scheduled Court date you must make every effort to return yourself to Court as soon as physically possible. Call your attorney and advise him or her about the reason for your failure to appear and as to when you are coming in to Court.
You are the only one responsible for remembering your court dates. If the judge sets, raises, or eliminates bail, you will be the one in jail. If you have any doubt about your next appearance date, contact your lawyer.
Most judges will accept reasonable excuses from those who voluntarily come back into Court soon after failing to appear. But don't count on it. The better course of action is simply to make sure you are there when you are supposed to be there.
Guide to Criminal Court in Queens County, New York
Queens criminal court guide from when to come, where to park, where to eat, what to do about a warrant and more.
Call 718-268-2171 to schedule your free consultation with a New York criminal defense lawyer from Shalley & Murray.
Shalley & Murray (NYC Office)
80-02 Kew Gardens Road
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Shalley & Murray (Westchester Office)
344 Route 202
Somers, NY 10589