Raise the Age Legislation
Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds in New York State are automatically prosecuted as adults in our criminal justice system. The laws are soon changing to raise the age of criminal responsibility to age 18. The objective is to prevent youthful offenders from being harshly punished, and instead provide services they need to be rehabilitated. Effective October 1, 2018, 16-year-olds will no longer be automatically prosecuted as adults; as of October 1, 2019, 17-year-olds will no longer automatically be prosecuted as adults.
What is Specifically Changing?
Parental Notification of Arrest Required: Parents of 16 and 17-year-olds who have been arrested will be required to be notified of the arrest. Furthermore, questioning must include parental involvement, and conducted in areas designated for youthful offender questioning. There will be time restrictions implemented for the length of questioning.
Criminal Records May be Sealed: Youthful offenders, who were convicted in adult court, may apply to have their record sealed after 10 years. The ten years is measured from the release of jail/prison or from the conviction, whichever is later. So long as the youthful offender has no more than two convictions (only one may be a felony), most criminal convictions may be sealed after 10 years. However, violent felonies, sex offenses, and Class A felonies will not be eligible to be sealed.
Jail and Prison Rules Change: 16 and 17-year-olds who are held before conviction or convicted and sentenced to jail/prison will no longer be allowed to be held in the same facility with adults. Youthful offenders will not be permitted to be held at Rikers. Youthful offenders, who need to be detained, will be treated like Juvenile Delinquents. If youthful offenders need to be detained prior conviction, they will be held in a specialized juvenile detention center designated for older youth. Lastly, Adolescent Offenders (see below for qualifications) who are sentenced to state imprisonment will be held in a specifically created Adolescent Offender Facility.
Cases May Be Prosecuted in Family Court Instead of Criminal Court: Cases involving 16 and 17-year-olds may be heard in the Family Court instead of Criminal Court. In Family Court, the 16 or 17-year-old offenders will be prosecuted according to the juvenile delinquency laws. In Family Court, in the event of a conviction, the offender will not have a criminal record.
Vehicle and Traffic Cases– Vehicle and Traffic Law matters may not be transferred to Family Court and will be prosecuted and punished under the current laws.
Misdemeanors– All misdemeanors that are not vehicle and traffic cases will be heard in Family Court instead of Criminal Court.
Non-Violent Felonies– All non-violent felonies will be commenced in the Youth Part of Criminal Court but will then be transferred to and prosecuted in Family Court, unless the District Attorney files a motion requesting the case be prosecuted in Criminal Court. The District Attorney must make an appropriate showing of “extraordinary circumstances.” Even if the District Attorney is successful, the case will be handled in the Youth Part of the Criminal Court.
Violent Felonies: 16 and 17-year-olds who are accused of violent felonies are not automatically eligible to have their cases heard in Family Court. If the violent felony is not one that includes-
1) displaying a deadly weapon in furtherance of the offense
2) intent to cause physical injury and/or
3) unlawful sexual conduct
The case may be transferred to Family Court if the District Attorney consents to the transfer. Similar to a non-violent felony, the District Attorney may submit a motion to the court to request that the case remains in Criminal Court. However, the District Attorney must show “extraordinary circumstances” to successfully keep the case in Criminal Court. Even where the District Attorney is successful, the case will still be prosecuted in the Youth Part of the Criminal Court.
Class A Felonies– Class A felonies, except class A felony drug offenses, may not be transferred to Family Court.
All cases not transferred to Family Court will be prosecuted in the Youth Part of the Criminal Court instead of in Criminal Court with standard, adult treatment.
What is the Youth Part of the Criminal Court?
There is a new category titled, “Adolescent Offender,” which was created for 16 and 17-year-olds who are accused of committing violent felonies or who do not successfully have their cases transferred to Family Court. Adolescent Offenders are heard in the Youth Part of Criminal Court. The Youth Part will be created once the law is implemented (beginning October 2, 2018, for 16-year-olds), where 13-17-year-old offenders will have their cases Prosecuted. The Family Court Judges will preside over these cases, and they will have more lenient treatment.
Are There Any Age-Appropriate Services for Adolescent Offenders?
Youth rehabilitative services will be implemented depending on the specific needs of the particular youth. The motivation behind the change in the law is to assist minors in becoming productive members of society. Currently, punishment is the main focus of prosecuting all crimes, which include 16 and 17-year-olds. Each offender will be assessed to decide whether they are in need of academic planning, therapy, education programs, vocational training, employment opportunities, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, etc. and will be required by or administer to the youthful offender. The goal is to rehabilitate more than to punish.
When a youth is released from custody, integration services may be available where needed. These will assist with family reintegration, housing assistance, mental health and medical care, employment support, and educational assistance.
If you are a minor or the parent of a child under 18 who has been accused of a crime, call a skilled attorney to discuss your rights and options. The Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C. offers free consultations for criminal matters (631) 343-7676.
Attorney Advertising. This blog post is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be neither formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. New York State only.