Understanding “Raise the Age”: New York State Juvenile Crimes and Prosection

A long time coming in the minds and hearts of many a child advocate, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Raise the Age” legislation into law this past April. As a result, juveniles, kids, youth, children, or simply boys and girls aged 16 and 17 will, depending on the crimes, find themselves prosecuted in New York’s Family Courts in lieu of New York’s Criminal Courts. More specifically, commencing October 1, 2018 for sixteen-year olds and October 1, 2019 for seventeen-year olds, the vast majority of arrests and criminal cases will be heard before a Family Court Judge from the inception of the criminal case or after being transferred from the “regular” or “adult” Criminal Court’s Youth Court Part.

Not a full examination of the pending change in the New York juvenile justice system, the following provides value insight that can be further examined with your New York criminal lawyer or juvenile defense attorney.

More common then the more serious felony arrests, upon the effective date of the “Raise the Age” law, all misdemeanors, other than VTL offenses, will fall under the jurisdiction of the New York Family Court Act and, as such, be heard before a Family Court Judge. While there are less felony arrests both in adult and juvenile courts, all juvenile felony offenses will start in the Youth Part of the respective criminal court where the case is being prosecuted. For example, if your 16 or 17-year-old is arrested in Manhattan or Brooklyn and charged with Grand Larceny, Robbery or a felonious Assault, he or she will appear with your attorney in Manhattan or Brooklyn Criminal Court respectively.

It is important to understand that all juvenile crimes and prosecutions are not the same and there are distinct procedures. If a youth is charged with a non-violent offense, such as felony Criminal Mischief, after beginning in the Youth Part, the District Attorney must file a motion within thirty days establishing “extraordinary circumstances” as to why the case should not be transferred to Family Court. Upon receipt, the Criminal Court Judge can grant a hearing to the prosecution to decide whether the should remain in Criminal Court or be transferred to Family Court.

Unlike non-violent crimes, most violent offenses follow the same procedure as above. However, if the offense involved a weapon, caused certain types of physical injuries, or involved unlawful sexual conduct, then the District Attorney must consent if the judge is to transfer the case to Family Court. Felony drug cases and VTL crimes cannot be transferred.

Even with the law change, certain juveniles can still and will still be prosecuted in adult courts. Referred to as “Adolescent Offenders” these sixteen and seventeen year old children can receive the same sentence as their adult counterparts, but the law mandates that the sentencing judge take the defendant’s age into consideration at the time of sentencing. Moreover, Adolescent Offenders remain eligible for Youthful Offender Adjudication or “YO” treatment.

To learn more about the New York Juvenile Justice System and the New York arrest through prosecution process for youths aged seventeen and younger, examine the links above.

Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm and New York juvenile crime defense practice founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. Crotty Saland PC represents teenagers in New York’s Family Courts and Criminal Courts throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley.