The Bethlehem Town Court hears cases on almost all local matters including small claims up to $3,000, criminal misdemeanors and felonies, traffic infractiongs, and conducts preliminary hearings and arraignments in felony matters. Its judges (Town Justices) are actually on-call 24 hours a day in case of arraignments and act as Family Court judges when necessary. The court's full schedule and other information is available online at their official website - townofbethlehem.org. The town itself encompasses the hamlets of Delmar, Elsmere, Slingerlands, Glenmont, Selkirk, North and South Bethlehem.
It's strange that this court plays such a central role in the legal business here in Albany County. You would never guess it driving through the town, but it does have a moderate population with a lot going on. Delmar is on the fringes of some very urban parts of the city of Albany but quickly transforms into a typical small-town Americana that is so prevalent in Upstate New York as you continue South on Delaware Avenue (NYS Route 443). As is also typical of these neat, little small towns, local laws are taken seriously and aggresively enforced at times.
In regards to traffic tickets, there are plenty of opportunities for trouble. One of New York's largest highways, Interstate I-87 (NYS Thruway) cuts through the northern tip and the entire length of the eastern section of the town limits with an off-ramp in Selkirk. Routes 32, 85, 9W and 144 are all major roadways, with abrupt changes in speed limit at times, that traverse the length and breadth of Bethlehem's borders. Route 85, for example, carries busy commuters from Albany (near SUNY and the State Offices), on a long stretch of 55mph highway in to Slingerlands where drivers have to negotiate a number of roundabouts and 35mph speed limit areas. If you're not used to it, it can test your attention to the posted traffic signs and makes for a lot of moving violations issued in the town limits. A lot of the traffic stops that lead to DWI arrests and UPM tickets (as well as AUO cases) come from these nooks and crannies of suburbia - although a good deal come from that long stretch of I-87 (probably about 10 miles). Also worth noting is the stretch of highway in Glenmont near the Walmart.
Like some other small towns with a heavy flow of foreign traffic that only passes through, Bethlehem has developed some fairly strict policies for dealing with traffic violations. Unlike most of Albany's local courts, the Bethlehem Town Court requires personal appearances on speeding tickets 85mph and above. This means that if you get a ticket (VTL 1180) in Bethlehem you have to physically come to court to answer your charges - even if you live in New York City, another state, or another country! Fortunately, your attorney can usually show up for you and handle the matter without you having to make the trip. This does push the price up a bit for these cases, though. Bethlehem has also adopted a policy of refusing to negotiate Move Over tickets (VTL 1144-a) which means that, unlike other V&T violations, you either plead guilty or have a trial (which will require your appearance). If you do need help with a traffic matter in Bethlehem, please feel free to contact our office. We have had a great deal of success in this court and will be happy to help you with fees as low as $200.
Criminal matters like DWI, UPM, domestic violence, assault, and other crimes typical of any city or small town also make up a large part of the court's docket. Our criminal defense attorneys are always available for a free, confidential consultation to help you understand your rights and options. To speak with a Bethlehem criminal defense attorney or Bethlehem traffic lawyer, click the "Contact" button up top or call (518) 406-8330.