What is the New York Juvenile Court Process?

When a child below the age of 16 is arrested and accused of committing a crime, they will typically be charged with committing a “delinquent act.” They will go to trials as “juvenile delinquents” in a Family Court.

If your child is facing charges as a juvenile delinquent, consult a criminal defense law firm in Long Island. They will help you understand the charges brought against your child and the court process. You should know that the juvenile court system is different from the adult system, and it’s vital to ensure your child’s rights are not being violated.

What is the Difference Between the Juvenile and the Adult Court System in New York?

The juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitating offenders, while the adult system punishes offenders for their mistakes.

Other differences are as follows:

  • The juvenile system aims at diverting juvenile delinquency cases out of the criminal justice system
  • Court records and sealed criminal convictions are confidential in juvenile cases
  • Judges, not juries, conduct trials to determine the offender’s guilt or innocence in juvenile cases

If these factors are not apparent in your child’s juvenile delinquency case, consult a skilled Long Island juvenile defense lawyer to understand your child’s rights and available options.

What Are the Different Categories of Offenders in the New York Juvenile System?

In New York, children seven years or older can be brought to court and prosecuted for criminal conduct. A Long Island juvenile defense lawyer can fight to defend your child against the charges and protect them from the consequences.

The court that handles the case depends on the child’s age and the type of offense in question. These factors also determine what happens to the child’s criminal record if convicted of the crime. Underage offenders are categorized as follows:

Juvenile Delinquents

These are children between 7 and 16 years at the time of committing the delinquent act. If the child were an adult, New York criminal laws would consider the offense a “crime.” However, the child is treated as a juvenile delinquent, with the matter heard in a Family Court if the child needs rehabilitation, treatment, or supervision and the crime isn’t a felony.

Juvenile Offenders

Children aged 13, 14, or 15 charged with felonies or severe crimes may be charged as adults. Their cases will be heard in New York Supreme Court instead of a Family Court. Juvenile offenders can be subjected to more severe punishments than juvenile delinquents.

Youthful Offenders

Youthful offenders are between the ages of 16 and 18 and were previously charged as adults. They could face charges for misdemeanors or felonies, and depending on the circumstances, the judge could be obligated to give the offender treatment, resulting in the conviction being sealed.

Sometimes, the decision to grant treatment was at the judge’s discretion, depending on eligibility.

Adolescent Offenders

The “Raise the Age” legislation recently established the category of adolescent offenders. It incorporates offenders between the ages of 16 and 17 who commit severe offenses or felonies punishable by one-year imprisonment or more. The cases are handled in the Youth Part of the Criminal Court, not the Supreme or Family Court.

What is the “Raise the Age” Legislation?

In the past, New York laws didn’t distinguish between juvenile and adult offenders. Children aged seven years were charged, tried, and even sentenced in adult criminal courts. The system and procedures posed many challenges, given that there were no distinctions between gender, age, and mental illnesses. Prison populations included adult and juvenile offenders.

With progressive reforms came the “Raise the Age” legislation that changed the age at which a child can be prosecuted as an adult to 18 years in criminal cases. Under the bill, the following applies:

  • Misdemeanor cases under the penal code involving 16 and 17-year-olds are decided in the Family Court and are considered juvenile delinquency.
  • Misdemeanor cases under Vehicle and Traffic law involving 16 and 17-year-olds are considered adult cases and are decided in the local criminal court or heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme Court if committed together with a felony.
  • Felony cases involving 16 and 17-year-olds are considered adult offenses, and the cases start at the Youth Part of the Supreme Court. If a case is removed from this court to the Family Court, it’s considered a juvenile delinquency case.

Does My Child Need a Lawyer When Facing Charged for Juvenile Delinquency?

Navigating the juvenile court system is as complex as the adult court system. It is marked with several intricacies and dynamics that may make the situation hard for your child if they don’t know what happens or what to expect. So, having a skilled Long Island juvenile defense attorney is advantageous to you and your child.

The lawyer can take your family through the system while protecting your child’s rights. When a child faces charges and has to go through the justice system, their future, freedom, and life are at stake. Be diligent in protecting them from a damaged life by hiring a skilled lawyer from a reputable Long Island criminal defense law firm.

Protect Your Child’s Rights and Freedom

It can be a frightening experience to have your child subjected to the criminal court system for a mistake they committed. An alleged error they make today shouldn’t define them forever, so you should take steps to protect and defend them against the charges. The best way to do so is to hire an aggressive juvenile defense attorney in New York.

They understand how the criminal system works and will ensure your child gets rehabilitation instead of punishment for their mistakes. Our juvenile defense attorney can provide the legal counsel and representation you need during this challenging time. Contact us to schedule a FREE case assessment.