Misdemeanors and Felonies for Juvenile Offenders

While children aged 16 and younger who are accused of committing crimes are automatically handled in New York Family Court in a Juvenile Delinquency proceeding, rather than in an adult criminal court, there are still certain exceptions to this for 13, 14 and 15 year olds. If the charges are extremely serious, even children of this very young age can be prosecuted and tried as adults. This is largely designed to reflect the severity of the alleged crime, and the perceived necessity for higher levels of punishment and/or supervision than that which is afforded in the juvenile justice system in Family Court. Although you should examine the law with your juvenile crimes defense lawyer, the pertinent sections are codified in New York Criminal Procedure Law 722.20 and New York Penal Law 10.00. While the former establishes the procedures by which a criminal case against a juvenile offender must proceed, the latter defines who is considered a “juvenile offender” for the purposes of such a prosecution.

Children in this age range may still be tried as an adult, and prosecuted in an adult criminal court, if the child is charged with one or more of the following:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, PL 125.25(1), PL PL 125.25(2) or 125.25 as a sexually motivated felony, if the defendant is 13-years-old
  • Murder in the Second Degree, PL 125.25(3) if the underlying crime is also a crime for which the child could be charged as an adult, and if the child is 14 or 15-years-old
  • Kidnapping in the First Degree, PL 135.25
  • Arson in the First Degree, PL 150.20
  • Assault in the First Degree, PL 120.10(1) and PL 120.10(2)  
  • Manslaughter in the First Degree, PL 125.20
  • Rape in the First Degree, PL 130.35(1) and PL 130.35(2)
  • Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, PL 130.50(1) and 130.50(2)
  • Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, PL 130.70
  • Burglary in the First Degree, PL 140.30
  • Burglary in the Second Degree, Penal Law 140.25(1)
  • Arson in the Second Degree, PL 150.15
  • Robbery in the First Degree, PL 160.15
  • Robbery in the Second Degree, 160.10(2)
  • Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, PL 265.03 where the firearm is possessed on school grounds,

Being charged with one of these serious offenses means that a child as young as 13 years old can be prosecuted in New York City, Rockland County, Westchester County, and throughout New York State as an adult, even in the absence of any kind of criminal record, Family Court history, or school disciplinary history of any kind. The county and jurisdiction in which a child is being prosecuted as an adult can have a large impact on the approach and options presented by the prosecutor. A conviction for one of these serious offenses means that a 13 year old in New York City and throughout New York State can potentially be given a life sentence. It's difficult to imagine any more critical moment of a young child's life, and it is imperative that any child who is charged with one of these serious offenses is represented by an attorney who is not only an expert in criminal law, but also who is familiar with and understands the unique issues presented by the prosecution of a young child.

When a child or youth is accused of a crime, their entire future is at risk. Be smart, prepared and diligent in your effort to protect him or her from a damaged life or even incarceration. Because an alleged mistake a child makes today should not define him or her forever, contact the New York criminal lawyers, juvenile delinquency and youthful offender attorneys, and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC to put your child’s interests, rights and future first.

Call the Former Manhattan Prosecutors and Juvenile Defense Lawyers at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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