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Does Nassau County Village Court have Authority of a Misdemeanor?

This case is before this Court from a refusal of the District Attorney to prosecute a case involving a dog that allegedly attacked a person. It is alleged that on April 16, 2008, the complainant was walking down a public sidewalk when a loose dog, later identified as belonging to the defendants, ran up to and bit the complainant on the hand, and, unprovoked, injured the plaintiff and damaged a box he was holding. It is further contended that the complainant then contacted the police and had to receive antibiotics for a period of one week as a result of the dog bite. Upon contacting the police and making a complaint, the Village of Westbury Attorney apparently advised the complainant to file a formal complaint with the District Attorney’s office, which the complainant did. Thereafter, the District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute and instead suggested that the Village handle the matter.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that the complainant gave a supporting deposition to the Village Prosecutor which was reduced to a summons on May 6, 2008. The defendants are also charged with violating Article III, Chapter 74, §74-8 of the Village of Westbury Code, having his dog running loose, which is a violation. This charge stems from an incident that allegedly took place a month prior to the first charge. On March 20, 2008, the defendants allegedly had their dog wandering loose, meaning that the dog was purportedly on public property without a leash or similar restraint.

A Bronx Criminal Lawyer said the question I this case is whether the Nassau County Village Justice Court have jurisdiction over a misdemeanor? The answer is no. This Court believes that the Legislature truly does not understand that there is a marked differentiation between Village Courts in Nassau County and elsewhere. The Legislature has obviously overlooked the constraints of Village Courts in Nassau County. If the Legislature wishes to give Nassau’s Village Courts jurisdiction over misdemeanors, it needs to enact legislation to that effect which must clarify questions involving the jurisdiction of District Courts and what facilities, training, staff, and provisions will be provided for the conduct of these cases including jury trials. Therefore, Agriculture & Markets Law §121 as applied to Nassau County Village Courts is unconstitutional.

A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said where a municipality elects to prosecute a violation, a Town or Village Attorney’s authority is limited. Article 7 infractions may be prosecuted as violations under the Penal Law, however the present charge is a misdemeanor offense and County Law requires that the District Attorney for a particular county prosecute all crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of that county. While it is possible, with a proper grant of authority from the District Attorney, Village Officials may prosecute violations of a Village’s Local Laws the law that was allegedly violated here is a State law and not a village ordinance or violation. In her letter dated May 16, 2008, the District Attorney writes that it has been determined that the complaint would best be dealt with by the Village of Westbury.

This Court sincerely regrets the fact that the complainant and defense have been shuttled from Hempstead to Westbury and back again. District Attorney can properly decline to prosecute any case, however, she may not do so by dumping cases on Nassau’s Village Justice Courts when they have no jurisdiction to entertain them.

In thus far declining to prosecute this case, the District Attorney has shown a callous indifference to the residents of Nassau County as well as ignorance with respect to the jurisdiction of Village Justice Courts versus the District Courts of Nassau County.

It is the opinion of this Court that it has jurisdiction of the summons stemming from the violation of the Village Code only. This Court has no jurisdiction to hear the misdemeanor charge stemming from the violation of Agriculture & Markets Law §121, but that there are other avenues of relief available for the complainant under a private civil action, a Special Proceeding under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (C.P.L.R.) versus the District Attorney, and other private actions, which may allow for the recovery of damages for any alleged injuries sustained. This Court also holds that the Agriculture & Markets Law §121, as applied to Nassau County Village Justice Courts, is unconstitutional.

The Stephen Bilkis & Associates together with its Nassau County Dog Bite Attorneys can assist you if ever you experience the same scenario above.

Our Nassau County Dog Bite Lawyers are knowledgeable as to the issues that arise in these cases including the proper venue and jurisdiction of courts to entertain claims for injuries pertaining to these accidents. Call us for your inquiry and we will provide you legal consultation at no cost.

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