night court nyc

I finally got a chance to do one of the weirder items on my list when I went to Night Court with some friends last night. As I understand it, people who are arrested must be arraigned within 24 hours, and given the shear volume of people in NYC, it means the courts are open from 9am to 1am, seven days a week.

After heading to a friends going-away party Saturday night, we decided to check out Night Court to see our judicial system is process (and find out if it was anything like Night Court, the TV show). We made our way to 100 Centre St around 12:30am (we didn’t know it closed at 1am), unsure of what to expect.

After going through the security process, we made our way around the corner and into room 130, where they arraign the felonies. We quickly learned there is no talking allowed in the courtroom (even though the lawyers and police officers seemed to have their own side conversations) as we were shushed almost as soon as we entered.

There were a wide variety of cases presented, ranging from drug possession to domestic abuse. At first I was surprised by what the defendants chose to wear to court, but realized that’s because that’s what they were arrested in.  I was also surprised to find that you get a significant discount on your bail if you post it using cash (something to keep in mind I suppose?).

At 1:10am (must’ve been a lot of cases), we decided to leave the felonies room and check out misdemeanors in room 129. We saw the tail end of one case and then a quick release of another and they closed up shop for the evening.

Overall it was an interesting thing to see and though I don’t think I’ll plan any personal trips back, I’d go if people wanted to see what it was like. And for those of you wondering, “WHY?”, I was interested in checking out Night Court out of curiosity for what the court process is like and how the fact that it’s midnight impacts the process. Aside from lots more yawning, I’d imagine that’s what the normal process looks like.

Experience Date: 2011-03-19
Location: 100 Centre Street, Manhattan
Hours: 5:30pm to 1:00am, 7 days a week
Website: Things to Do in New York: Watch Night Court
Rating: ****

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