Probation for Juvenile Delinquents

Probation in the Family Courts and in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

Probation has a very different role in New York Juvenile Delinquency proceedings than in the adult criminal justice system that your juvenile defense lawyer should have first-hand knowledge. In Family Court matters involving children, the Probation Department is involved at a much earlier stage. At the child's very first appearance in Family Court, the child will typically be interviewed by a probation officer or other similar agency, who will decide whether the charges should proceed or whether to release and monitor the child. This interview routinely occurs with both the child and his or her criminal attorney. Ultimately, probation determine whether to ultimately decline to continue the case or “file” or forward the complaint to the court and prosecutor. This essentially removes an important screening function from what would typically be among the prosecutor's roles in a criminal proceeding. If the charges are maintained against the child, as determined by the Probation Department, the Family Court judge will make a determination as to whether the child should be released or held in custody while the charges are pending. The Probation Department also maintains its more typical post-conviction role of monitoring and community supervision. After a fact-finding hearing, and upon a finding that the child is a juvenile delinquent, the judge may order formal probation.

Probation in the Criminal Courts

The New York City Department of Probation, just as with the Probation Departments of Westchester County, Rockland County, Orange County, and throughout New York State, is primarily charged with ensuring the safety of local communities by monitoring people on probation and helping to facilitate their personal development. People typically end up under the supervision of probation when they have been convicted of a criminal offense, such as drug possession or assault, and are sentenced by the presiding judge to a term of probation. In such situations, probation typically lasts between 2 and 5 years, although certain laws and statutes allow for longer periods of probation for certain classes of offenses, or where there has been a Violation of Probation.

Once on probation, a person will be assigned to a probation officer, who will be responsible for monitoring the probationer. A probation officer will typically require the probationer to check in with them periodically, either in person or over the phone. The probation officer may also require the probationer to enroll in certain relevant treatment programs such as drug addiction treatment or behavioral therapy. The probationer may also be required to enroll in job training, and to report back with their efforts to obtain employment.

Probation Departments have broad discretion and authority in pursuing their mission. Among other things, Probation Departments can unilaterally decide to file a Violation of Probation petition against a probationer. The petition will be heard by a judge, typically the judge who imposed the sentence, who will impose a sanction on the probationer with the advice of probation. However, the probationer is entitled to a hearing if they contest the allegation that they violated the terms and conditions of probation.

Simply, in the realm of juvenile delinquency proceedings and criminal allegations against a child, the Department of Probation is a critical step in the early stages of the justice process that cannot be overlooked. A cavalier approach to a probation officer’s inquiries about and review of the child could be fatal to an early and reasonable resolution of a Family Court case. Similarly, after the “criminal” case winds its way through a New York Family Court, the Department of Probation will once again play a key role until the case against the child formally closes.

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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