What do I do if I was Charged With a Juvenile Crime?

If you are over the age of 7 and under the age of 16 and are being charged with a crime, then your case will be handled in family court instead of criminal or municipal court. While juveniles are often treated with a bit more leniency than people over the age of 16, juvenile crimes may still have a huge impact on your life. If you or someone you know has been charged with a juvenile crime, here are some of the questions you may have:

What is the juvenile process like?

Once a juvenile is detained, the presentment agency will file a petition against the child. The petition will contain the details of the alleged crime. The family court will begin the trial with a fact-finding hearing. This hearing has no jury and the outcome is decided by a judge. If the judge finds a lack of supportive evidence, the case will be dismissed. However, if a judge finds evidence to support the allegation, he or she will schedule a dispositional hearing and will then order the probation department to investigate the juvenile’s home and school behavior. If the judge believes it is necessary, he or she may also order a further evaluation by the city’s mental health services. A juvenile may be detained or paroled into the custody of the parents until the dispositional hearing, at the court’s discretion. During the dispositional hearing, the judge will decide whether or not the child is considered a “delinquent,” which means the child is in need of supervision, treatment, or confinement.

Can a juvenile ever be tried as an adult?

New York is one of two states that believe 17 and 18-year-olds should be tried as adults. In some cases, children between the ages of 13 and 15 may also be considered an adult. This generally happens if a child is charged with a serious crime or violent act. In this case, they may be “waived” up to criminal court and tried as an adult. The prosecutor’s office and the juvenile judge have the discretion whether the trial will stay in Family Court of not. Some of the crimes that may constitute a waiver are:

  • Murder
  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Serious drug offenses
  • Armed robbery

Does a juvenile need an attorney in court?

In New York, juveniles must have an attorney to represent the child’s interests. If a guardian cannot afford an attorney, they must ask the court to offer an attorney to represent the client free of charge. The court has the discretion to grant that request, and generally, the legal standard is quite high. If either parent or guardian is employed, the court will rarely provide an attorney for free.

Contact our New York firm

Kevin T. Conway has over 30 years of experience as a Spring Valley criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need a Rockland County criminal lawyer, contact our Spring Valley office for a free consultation.