The Juvenile Justice Process in New York Family Court

We handle all types of juvenile cases, the most common ones being larceny, criminal mischief, assault, and sex offenses.

At What Ages Are Juveniles Accused Of Committing Crimes Sent To Family Court in New York?

The age range for juveniles sent to Family Court in New York is between 7 years old and 18 years old (16, 17, and 18 year-olds can begin in Adult Criminal Court as “Adolescent Offenders,” however most cases are transferred to Family Court).

What Is The Process For A Juvenile Arrested By The Police?

When a juvenile is arrested, the police must make a good faith effort to contact the child’s parent or guardian. A parent must be present when a child is questioned and the parent must consent to any questioning by the police. A lawyer can also be present if they are requested to be by the child or the parent. While at the police precinct, juveniles are kept in child-only areas. Most children are released to the custody of their parents and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket, which requires them to appear in Family Court approximately one month after their arrest.

When a child is charged with a violent felony, a sex offense, or a crime against a parent, the child is handcuffed and brought to court that day or the next day for arraignment. However, children are not taken to adult jails. If a child is brought to court immediately and detained by a judge, then the child is taken to a juvenile detention facility.

How Do The Procedures For Juveniles In Family Court Compare To Those in For Adults in Criminal Court?

The goal of the juvenile justice system in Family Court in New York is to provide treatment and probation supervision for children in need, along with confinement if necessary. Unlike adults convicted of committing criminal offenses, children do not leave the juvenile justice system with a criminal record. The juvenile justice system in Family Court has many of the same procedures as those found in the adult justice system in New York. Lawyers are also required to defend children in the juvenile justice system. Unlike in Adult Criminal Court, cases involving juvenile offenders in Family Court must be handled within 60 days of an arraignment. Perhaps the single biggest difference from Adult Criminal Court is that there are no juries in Family Court and thus all cases are decided by a judge.

What Is The Purpose Of Not Having Jury Trials for Juveniles in Family Court?

One reason they don’t have juries for juveniles in Family Court is the impression that a jury trial might compromise the confidentiality of these cases. The overarching concern in all Family Court matters is the best interests of the child, even more so than the adjudication of guilt or innocence. It is thought that a trained judge is better equipped to make a determination as to the best interests of a child.

What Are the Alternative Sentences To Jail For Juveniles In New York?

In New York, a child found to be responsible for a crime can be granted what’s known as an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, which dismisses the case after six months of good behavior. The child can be given a Conditional Discharge, which requires the child to stay out of trouble for one year or face re-sentencing. A child can receive a period of Probation Supervision, during which the child must report to a probation officer, undergo psychological treatment, and, if necessary, receive drug and alcohol addiction counseling. There can be a period of confinement in a juvenile detention center. Juvenile detention centers can either be non-secure, which involves a school-like setting with an open campus, or secure, which is more like a like a jail for strictly juvenile offenders.

Do Juvenile Convictions Automatically Drop Off Your Record Or Do They Stay On There?

If a case has gone through the juvenile system in Family Court, the matter is automatically sealed and does not appear as part of any adult criminal record.

Under What Circumstances Can A Juvenile Be Prosecuted in Adult Criminal Court?

For certain very serious charges, a child may be deemed a “Juvenile Offender” and prosecuted as an adult. A 13 year old child charged with Murder in the Second Degree under certain circumstances may be prosecuted in Adult Criminal Court. Children 14 or 15 years old may be prosecuted as adults under certain circumstances for the following crimes: Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, Arson in the First Degree, Arson in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree, Attempted Kidnapping in the First Degree, Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (if on school grounds), Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, Kidnapping in the First Degree, Manslaughter in the First Degree, Murder in the Second Degree, Rape in the First Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, and Robbery in the Second Degree.

When During The Process Should A Parent Hire A Lawyer For Their Child?

As early as possible! The police often tell parents that the judge will assign a lawyer for their child when they go to court, and thus their child does not need an attorney while they’re interrogated. This might be in the bests interests of the police, but it is certainly not in the child’s best interests. A child, just like an adult, needs an attorney at the earliest stages of a case. Children with an attorney at the very beginning have a far greater chance of never even having to go to court, and if they do end up going to court they have a much greater chance of not being convicted. Hiring an experienced attorney as soon as possible for your child can save their future.

If My Child Intends To Plead Guilty To A Minor Offense, Should I Still Hire An Attorney?

You should hire an attorney if your child has been charged with committing a crime, no matter how minor. It can make the difference between your child being incarcerated or instead going home with you.

For more information on Juvenile Offenses In New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 259-6060 today.

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