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Courts/Criminal Justice



Courts/Criminal Justice
Q.   Is there such a thing as a trial discharge from foster care?

For youth being discharged to independent living, a trial discharge period is generally planned by the Department of Social Services.  This is a period during which a youth has been discharged from foster care but remains in the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services and continues to participate in case management services.  The trial discharge period usually lasts for six months, but can be longer.  There may be some circumstances where a trial discharge period is not planned, for example if custody is terminated by a court order or the youth does not agree to accept services.

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Q.   If I leave foster care to live on my own can I return to foster care if things don’t work out?

If you are still in the trial discharge period it is possible to re-enter foster care.  However, after the trial discharge period is complete, the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services loses custody.  Once a youth is age 18, the Department can no longer file a petition in family court to request custody, so there would be no way to place the youth back into foster care.

Even after the completion of the trial discharge period, if you are having difficulty in some area of your life, for example housing or finances, you may contact your former case manager who can provide guidance or advocacy.

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Q.   Where do I call for information about child custody hearings?

If there is a divorce or legal separation case involved, then call the Supreme Court.  If there is not a divorce or legal separation case involved, then call the Family Court. Click Here to access a directory of all courts in Dutchess County.

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Q.   How do I find out if someone has a criminal record?

There are certain circumstances under which you can find out if someone has a criminal record in New York State, and there are several ways to go about the process.

For example, if the individual you are seeking information on has been an inmate in a New York State correctional facility, then information on the crime, sentence and release date is public record in most cases (exceptions include youthful offenders).  The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will provide this information: click Here to access their website.

Crime victims and all other New Yorkers can also make toll-free calls to get information about convicted felony offenders in the custody of the DOCCS through Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), which is available around the clock.  The VINE phone number is 1-888-846-3469. Click Here to view specific instructions on using VINE.

Furthermore, there a certain instances where employers are required by law to perform a background check on potential employees, and there are also instances where an employer may perform a background check with the consent of the individual in question.  For example, under “Kieran’s Law,” parents can forward the fingerprints of a prospective childcare provider to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for a criminal background search.

For additional information about criminal background checks, click on the following link to access the website of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

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Q.   Where does traffic court take place?

Traffic court takes place in your local city, town or village court.  Click Here for a directory of municipal courts.

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Q.   Where can I find answers to my questions about jury duty?

The New York State Unified Court System provides a juror information website with the stated purpose being “ to answer . . . concerns and give you an introduction into your upcoming jury service.  Please browse through the site and feel free to use the e-mail feature to ask questions or tell us what you think about your jury system.”  Click Here to access this website.

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Q.   Where are the local municipal courts?

If you need directions to a local municipal court, click Here for a list of phone numbers and links to city, town and village courts in Dutchess County.

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Q.   Which courts are located in Dutchess County, and what kinds of cases are handled in each court?

Dutchess County is home to a Supreme, County, and Surrogate’s Court, a Family Court, two City Courts, and various Town and Village Courts.  Click Here to find the different kinds of cases that are handled by the different courts as well as contact and other helpful information.

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Q.   How can I access the Attorney General’s database of FAQs?

The website of the New York State Attorney General provides the answers to frequently asked legal questions.  Click Here to access this information.

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Q.   Where can I find information on court dates and fees?

The answer to this question will depend upon the specific court that you are interested in. Dutchess County is home to a Supreme, County, and Surrogate’s Court, a Family Court, two City Courts, and various Town and Village Courts.Please click Here to access a directory of municipal courts.  Visit the New York State Unified Court System's website to access a directory of all courts in Dutchess County.

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Q.   Who should I contact if I believe that I have been subject to discrimination in credit, education, employment, housing or public accomodations?

Any person who believes that he/she has been discriminated against in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, or credit should contact:
   New York State Division of Human Rights
   8 John Walsh Blvd., Suite 204
   Peekskill, NY 10566
   (914) 788 8050
   InfoPeekskill@dhr.state.ny.us

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Q.   If I’ve been raped or engaged in sex without consenting what can I do? Do I have to press charges? Do my parents need to know about it if I am under age 18?

If you are raped or engaged in sex without consenting, help is to be found by calling the police or Crime Victims Assistance Program.  Dutchess County also has a Rape Crisis Hotline, which is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and can be reached by calling (845) 452-7272.  Services available include crisis intervention, advocacy, referral information, counseling and accompaniment to the hospital, police and / or court.

No, it is your choice about whether to press charges. 

Generally for a young adult to receive services from the Crime Victims Assistance Program or the Rape Crisis Hotline a parent does not need to be notified.  However, there are some circumstances, about which your parent may need to know.  Talk to the person who is assisting you to see whether your parent needs to know and how this can be handled.

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Q.   How do I file for custody, visitation, support modification, or paternity?

You may come to 50 Market St., 2nd floor between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to file these petitions.  Petitions are taken on a first come, first served basis.

For more info contact: Family Court at (845) 486-2500 or Probation at (845) 486-2600.

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Q.   How can I get help to obtain child support from my child's father (or mother)?

The goal of the Child Support Enforcement Unit of the Department of Social Services is to ensure that legally responsible persons, to the best of their ability, contribute toward the support of their children.  Call the customer service helpline at (888) 208-4485 or visit www.newyorkchildsupport.com

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Q.   I’ve been told that my parent is responsible for me until I reach the age of 21. What can I do if I’m under age 21 and they throw me out and do not provide any financial support for me?

As long as you are willing to file a support petition in Family Court against each parent, you may be eligible for assistance. The Department of Social Services (60 Market St., Poughkeepsie, NY) will contact your parents and verify that they cannot or will not support you or provide you with a home. If this is verified, the Department will assist you in filing support petitions and provide you with public assistance. If you cannot file petitions for fear of your safety, the Department of Social Services will refer you to its Children's Services Unit to assess this and to locate alternate supportive housing.

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Q.   How do I file a PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) complaint?

An appointment to file a PINS complaint against a youth under the age of 18 for incorrigibility, ungovernability or truancy may be made by calling the Probation Department at 486-2600.

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Q.   How do I become a foster/adoptive parent?

There is a great need for more foster homes and more adoptive applicants for school age children. Foster parent requirements include:

  • Attending one of our monthly Orientation Meetings
  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You can be married, single, or living in partnership.
  • Have your own source of income (job, public assistance, or Social Security)
  • Have a bed for each child
  • Have working smoke detectors
  • Provide a safe and healthy home
  • Each person in the home 18 years or older must be fingerprinted
  • Each person in the home 18 years or older must be cleared through the Child Abuse Registry

See our brochure on how to become a foster parent or contact us at the following numbers for more information:

     (845) 486-3086
     (845) 486-3069
     (845) 486-3071

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Q.   As a victim of domestic violence, how do I obtain an Order of Protection?

You may file for an Order of Protection in either Criminal Court or Family Court.  To file a petition in Family Court, you may come to 50 Market St., 2nd floor between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Petitions are taken on a first come, first served basis.

For more information contact: Family Court at (845) 486-2500 or Probation at (845) 486-2600.  See also the District Attorney's webpage on Domestic Violence.

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Q.   Are there any legal services available to seniors who cannot afford a lawyer?

Office For The Aging provides legal services for seniors once a week to help with simple wills, health proxies, etc.  For more information contact the Office For The Aging Reception at (845) 486-2555.

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Q.   What types of documents do I need to present in order to see if I qualify for the Public Defender's services?

You will need to show proof of identification, proof of income, and your court documents.

For more info contact: (845) 486-2280  -or-  toll free (800) 660-8818 (outside 845 area code only).

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Q.   What should I do if my Pistol License is lost or destroyed?

If you lose your Pistol License or it is destroyed, you need to go to the Dutchess County Clerk's Office (Records Room) and obtain a copy of your original pistol license application.  Bring your application copy to the Pistol Bureau and we will print a new card. There is a $5.00 fee. We accept cash, check or money order.

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Q.   How can I get my name changed?

You should obtain a court order that officially changes your name.  The process is relatively simple in the case of a marriage or a divorce; in these situations, a name change can be included in the marriage certificate or on the order of divorce. 

However, if you are changing your name for any reason other than a divorce or a marriage, you must petition the New York State Supreme Court for a name change, and the process will be a bit more complicated.

The following is meant only as a summary of the procedure that you should follow to petition the court for a name change.  Please contact the Dutchess County Clerk at (845) 486-2120 for more specific instructions:

  1. To petition the court for a name change, you must first gather and fill out all of the necessary documents, including an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, a petition to change your name, a proposed name change order, an index number application, and a filing fee of approximately $210.00.  These documents must all be presented at the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office at 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie.

  2. The County Clerk will assign an index number to your request, after which you must present your documents to the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office at 10 Market Street, Poughkeepsie.  There will then be a waiting period during which the court will decide whether to issue an order to allow your requested name change.

  3. Once the order is issued by the judge, you must file the order with the Dutchess County Clerk.  You must also publish your name change in a newspaper in Dutchess County.  Then you must complete an affidavit of publication and file it with the Dutchess County Clerk.

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