Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults

While many juvenile criminal cases (children under the age of 16) are handled in New York’s Family Courts, teenagers, even as young as 13, are prosecuted as adults in the Criminal Courts for certain designated crimes. These include, but are not limited to, crimes like murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, burglary, robbery or a sexually motivated felony. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are not prosecuted in Family Court; they are prosecuted as adults in New York. In fact, New York is currently one of only two states in the nation where alleged offenders who are 16 years of age or older are automatically put into the adult criminal system.

The experience of being arrested is frightening enough for alleged offenders of any age, but the prospect of children being sentenced to possible incarceration in adult facilities does little for possible rehabilitation and typically increases the chances of recidivism. Prosecutors can be very aggressive in their attempts to convict youths, which makes the immediate handling of these cases critical for alleged offenders.

Lawyer for Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults in Queens, NY

If you, your child, or someone you know has been arrested for any kind of alleged criminal offense in the greater New York City area, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Law Office aggressively defends alleged juvenile offenders and youthful offenders in Queens as well as in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx.

Queens criminal defense attorney Rochelle S. Berliner has experience handling these cases on both sides of the aisle, having spent 14 years as a prosecutor with the New York County District Attorney's Office. She can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call Law Office to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

New York Juveniles Tried as Adults Information Center

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When Juveniles Are Prosecuted as Adults in New York City

New York’s Criminal Court system has jurisdiction over alleged juvenile offenders aged 13-15 for certain designated offenses as well as youthful offenders aged 16-18, regardless of the severity of the criminal offense. As a result, teenagers who are still in high school can face possible jail sentences if convicted for misdemeanor offenses or prison time if convicted of felony offenses.

Unlike Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) for non-criminal offenses in which alleged offenders have diversion options, alleged offenders aged 13-18 do not have any opportunity for diversion prior to court involvement. When alleged offenders 16 years of age or older are arrested for an alleged criminal offense, authorities are not legally obligated to contact the youth’s parents or legal guardians to notify them of the arrest or request their presence before questioning.

If a youthful offender (16-18 years old) is arrested for a misdemeanor or lower-level felony offense, a police officer may issue an appearance ticket and release the youth from custody. When the alleged offense is a serious felony offense or the officer decides not to issue an appearance ticket, the youth can be held in custody until he/she sees a judge, which could take up to 24 hours. Bail could then be set by the judge.

Alleged offenders 16-18 years old can face criminal charges relating to any violation of state law that adults can be accused of. Some of the most common types of offenses that these teenagers are charged with in New York include, but are not limited to:

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Other Juveniles That Can Be Prosecuted as Adults in Queens

Under New York Family Court Act § 301.2, a “juvenile delinquent” is defined as a person over seven and less than 16 years of age, who, having committed an act that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult, either:

  • is not criminally responsible for such conduct by reason of infancy; or
  • is the defendant in an action ordered removed from a criminal court to the family court pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 725.

It is important to note, however, that state law allows alleged offenders 13 to 15 years of age to be classified as “juvenile offenders” and be prosecuted as adults in traditional criminal courts for certain offenses. New York Criminal Procedure Law §1.20(42) defines a juvenile offender as a person 13 years of age who is charged with one of 18 enumerated felony offenses.

A teenager between the ages of 16 and 18, who is designated by the Judge, upon conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony, to be a “Youthful Offender,” can be sentenced to no more than 1-1/3 to 4 years in prison. The Youthful Offender conviction would not be considered a criminal conviction. It’s a second chance for those teenagers to learn from their mistake and be able to have a successful future. However, without that adjudication, the consequences of criminal convictions can be especially severe for teenage offenders who are prosecuted as adults. That is why it is so important to have an aggressive and compassionate criminal defense attorney to fight for that adjudication.

While adult misdemeanors are punishable by more than one year in jail and/or a fine of no more than $1,000, convictions for adults for felony offenses in New York are punishable as follows:

  • Class E Felony — Up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 or double the amount of the alleged offender’s gain from the commission of the crime;
  • Class D Felony — Up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 or double the amount of the alleged offender’s gain from the commission of the crime;
  • Class C Felony — Up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000 or double the amount of the alleged offender’s gain from the commission of the crime;
  • Class B Felony — Up to 25 years and/or a fine of up to $30,000 or double the amount of the alleged offender’s gain from the commission of the crime;
  • Class A-II Felony — Up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the amount of the alleged offender’s gain from the commission of the crime; and
  • Class A-I Felony — Up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 or double the amount of the alleged offender’s gain from the commission of the crime. 

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New York Resources for Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults

Raise the Age: Criminal Justice Reform | The State of New York — On this section of the State of New York’s website, you can learn about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed “Raise the Age” plan that would raise the age of criminal responsibility. You can read the plan recommended by the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice. You can also find additional information on the website of the Raise the Age New York public awareness campaign.

Final Report of the Governor's Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice — View the full text of this report from the Commission on Youth, Public Safety, & Justice detailing its recommendations for juvenile justice reform in New York State. You can learn more about past reforms as well as how the current system works. The report also covers best practices in adolescent justice, the risks and harms of incarcerating youth in adult facilities, and the collateral consequences of criminal records.

Campaign for Youth Justice — The Campaign for Youth Justice identifies itself as “a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.” Visit this website to learn more about its federal advocacy initiative, state work, and national media campaign. You can also access various reports, read recent news and press releases, and find ways to take action.

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Law Office | Queens Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults Attorney

Were you or your child arrested in the New York City area for allegedly committing any kind of criminal offense? Do not say anything to the police or to the District Attorney without legal representation. Contact Law Office today.

Rochelle S. Berliner is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Queens who represents alleged juvenile offenders in communities throughout Queens County, New York County, Bronx County and Kings County. Call or complete an online contact form today to have our attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options.

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