Currently, New York State’s age of adult criminal responsibility is 16 years old. This means that if a 16 or 17 year old commits a criminal offense, they will be prosecuted as an adult, even though by law they are technically still a minor. However, the state’s Assembly Majority plans to raise that age to 18, as it is in 48 other states. The primary goal is to differentiate the crimes of an adult and a child, as research has shown that juveniles in adult correctional facilities face severe social and psychological impacts directly related to the matter.
If the legislation is passed, the new law would handle civil violation charges, misdemeanors, and non-violent felonies in Family Court. However, violent felonies would be handled in the newly implemented Youth Part of criminal court. In addition, juvenile offenders of a violent felony would be required to take a test that determines whether the case is serious enough to remain in Youth Part or if it should be transferred down to Family Court. Juveniles who are convicted and sentenced within the Youth Part will serve time in a facility specifically for adolescents. The facility will be operated by the Department of Corrections and it will serve those convicted with programs run by the Office of Children and Family Services to help get these juveniles back on the right track.
The legislature’s plan is to remove juveniles under the age of 17 from county jails on October 1, 2018, and to remove juveniles under the age of 18 from these facilities on October 1, 2019. Our firm will continue to monitor any changes made to the law in order to best serve our clients.
If you are in need of experienced legal counsel in New York State, please contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. and we would be happy to assist you.