Offenses Committed by Children
When criminal accusations are made against a child, law enforcement will be very strict when investigating. In New York, crimes committed by juveniles account for about 20% of all arrests made by police officers. The most common crimes committed by juveniles are homicide, rape, robbery, DWI/DWAI, shoplifting, burglary, drug possession, assault, and many other violent crimes.
If your child has been arrested, your first concern will be to make sure he or she is released back to your family. Your next concern will be about whether your child can recover from his or her mistake. A criminal conviction can have serious repercussions on your child’s future. It can result in a record of juvenile delinquency, and in some cases, your child can be placed in a detention center which is very much like jail or prison. Further, in certain circumstances, a child can get a criminal record which may have an effect on his or future educational opportunities and career.
Whenever a child is accused of any type of crime, it is very important to hire an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer right from the start. At Pappalardo & Pappalardo, LLP, we can help protect and secure the legal rights of minors accused of a crime. We understand that children are often falsely accused of a crime by other children and/or adults. We will use our legal resources in order to take every opportunity available to us at preserving the freedom and future of any child accused of a crime.
Family Court or Criminal Court?
Certain charges against children can be handled in Family Court if the child is deemed a juvenile offender (JO) or juvenile delinquent (JD), or they can be dealt with in Criminal Court if the charges are more serious and the child is deemed a youthful offender (YO). The age of a child who comes within the jurisdiction of the Family Court is defined by state law.
In New York, the youngest age at which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent is 7 years old. The Family Court also has jurisdiction over offenses alleged to have been committed prior to a child’s 16th birthday. Instead of using the term “crime,” the juvenile justice system refers to the offense as a “delinquent act.” Sentences in Family Court can include probation, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD), a conditional discharge (CD), or placement with the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
After a child turns 16 years old, he or she will be charged in Criminal Court for his or her crime. Further, children aged 13 and older are tried in adult court for certain statutorily-delineated felonies, such as homicide. Even if your child is deemed a youthful offender rather than being convicted of a crime, he or she may still receive a sentence of probation, jail, or state prison.
“Raise the Age” Legislation
In April 2017, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation approving criminal justice reform known as “Raise the Age.” Under the new legislation, many juveniles who are 16 and 17 years old will no longer be prosecuted in Criminal Court or be incarcerated in adult prisons or jails. In October 2018, the age of adult criminal responsibility was raised to 17, and in October 2019 it will be raised to 18. The new legislation directs misdemeanors to family court and creates a special youth court for certain felonies. Non-violent offenders could apply to have their criminal records sealed after a 10-year waiting period.