Who Is Considered A Juvenile Delinquent Under New York Law?

A juvenile delinquent, under New York law, is someone who is currently under the age of 17 and has been convicted of either a felony or a misdemeanor. It's distinguished from a criminal conviction, so juvenile delinquency proceedings are held in family court, as opposed to criminal court. Due to the recent Raise the Age legislation, there will be a series of age amendments as to who will qualify to be charged as a juvenile. Right now, that age has been raised to 17 and as of next year, it will be fully implemented and raised to age 18. It doesn't necessarily mean that people under 18 cannot still be charged as adults; it just means that the vast majority of people below the age of 18 will now be in family court, as opposed to adult criminal court.

What Is The Difference Between A Juvenile Delinquent And A Juvenile Offender?

A juvenile delinquent is a youth below the age of 17, who is charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor in family court. A juvenile offender is a youth 13-15 who commits a serious felony. A "youthful offender" is a youth 17-18 who commits any kind of crime (which would include violations, in addition to felonies and misdemeanors) and would be handled in a special part of the criminal court. Due to the Raise the Age legislation, the juvenile offender and youthful offender statuses are likely to be phased out over time.

Does My Child Need An Attorney?

The court will actually not proceed with any juvenile delinquency case without the child having an attorney. The only choice would be whether the family hires a private attorney or the court assigns a public defender. Usually, the determination is a matter of finances.

What Types of Events Do Juvenile Delinquency Cases Generally Arise From?

A lot of juvenile delinquency cases stem from assaults or robberies. Oftentimes, kids get into fights with other kids and kids steal from other kids. Certainly, juvenile delinquency cases can run the gamut. I've handled cases of murder and attempted murder in family courts, though it's rare. Increasingly, you are going to find more of those serious crimes prosecuted in family court because of Raise the Age.

Is Juvenile Delinquency Always Related To Family Instability?

There can be a wide range of reasons why a particular youth commits a crime. Even youths in suburbs, who hail from rich families, commit crimes. Crime cuts across class lines but family instability would create a culture in which it would factor into why a particular youth would commit a crime and does enhance the likelihood of that occurring.

Is The Goal Of Juvenile Delinquency Cases More Rehabilitative Than Punishing?

The family court will, generally speaking, only look to put a juvenile in detention if every other sentencing alternative has been explored and there is no reasonable alternative. It is the law that the court has to consider every other reasonable alternative. It is the opposite of adult criminal court, where punishment is often the focus.

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