What is Juvenile Criminal Defense?
Definition of Juvenile Crimes
New York is just one of two states in the country that prosecute all 16 and 17 year olds as adults when a crime is committed. Children as young as 13 are also routinely prosecuted in adult court for serious criminal offenses, even though research shows that young people in adult prisons are at much greater risk of both physical violence and sexual victimization. Even young offenders who have their cases heard in family court may not get the help they need, as state senate reports reveal that chances to rescue teens from delinquency are routinely being missed in an overburdened family court system.
With myriad problems with the juvenile justice system in the state of New York, parents and young offenders should never assume that any case is a minor one. Being declared a juvenile delinquent can have a far reaching impact and it is important to do everything possible to successfully navigate the juvenile justice system. Bukh Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience representing children and teens accused of violating the law. Call today to learn how we can help.
Juvenile Crimes in New York
Illegal acts committed by someone between the ages of seven and 15 can result in a young person being declared a juvenile delinquent if found responsible for committing a crime. A person who is a juvenile delinquent is considered to be in need of confinement, supervision, and/or treatment.
All juvenile delinquency cases are heard in a family court, rather than a criminal court. The violation of the law is referred to not as a crime, but instead as a delinquent act. This is true whether the young person is accused of violating drug laws; shoplifting; committing an assault offense; or engaging in other unlawful activities.
If a teen between the ages of 13 and 15 commits a serious and/or violent offense, the case may be heard in Supreme Court instead of in family court. If convicted, the teen is not considered a juvenile delinquent, but is considered a juvenile offender. The penalties for a juvenile offender typically include incarceration if convicted, often in a prison that also holds adult offenders.
Once a teen is 16, he is no longer considered a juvenile for criminal justice purposes and he will be tried exactly as if he was an adult.
The Criminal Justice Process for Juvenile Offenders
If a child is under the age of 16 and is accused of committing a delinquent act, a “fact finding” hearing is held before a family court judge. There is no jury for cases involving delinquent acts. During the fact-finding hearing, witnesses and other evidence will be presented to try to provide proof of the child has violated the law. If the family court judge believes that the case against the child has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge will make a “finding” that wrongful acts were committed.
A subsequent dispositional hearing will occur to determine the fate of the child. The judge will consider the young person’s mental health status and behavior at home and school, as well as the nature of the delinquent act, in order to determine an appropriate outcome. Testimony from the child’s probation officer may also be presented, and the probation officer may make recommendations.
The judge may declare that the young person is a juvenile delinquent who should be under supervision, placed in a juvenile detention facility, or otherwise subject to confinement. Probation or a conditional discharge may also be appropriate, which would mean living at home but being required to abide by certain conditions. If a young person does not comply with all conditions of probation or conditional discharge, a subsequent disposition hearing may be scheduled and more stringent penalties may be imposed.
How a New York Juvenile Crimes Lawyer Can Help
A New York juvenile crimes lawyer can argue to keep a child’s case in family court, rather than having the child tried as an adult. Your attorney can also try to introduce doubt to avoid a finding that the child committed an offense, or can argue for a disposition that does not involve confinement.
Bukh Law Firm, P.C. has the experience and background necessary to help respond to juvenile crime accusations in a strategic way to maximize the chances of a positive outcome under bad circumstances.
Call today to learn more about how a New York City criminal lawyer can help when a young person is arrested for a crime.