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 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).
In New York, the youngest age at which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent is 7 years old. 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. The matter may be handled in a special part called Youth Court, or it may be transferred to Family Court. 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 which is now in effect, 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. The new legislation directs misdemeanors to family court and creates a special Youth Court for certain felonies.
Further, under the new laws, any time a child is arrested, his or her parents must be notified. And any questioning by law enforcement must take place in an age-appropriate setting with parental involvement. In addition, the laws regarding the sealing of convictions for juvenile offenders have also been amended. Finally, youths will no longer be held in facilities with adults.