Juvenile delinquency cases are handled in the New York Family Courts. If a child is determined to be a juvenile delinquent, the court is there to issue an order that not only is designed protect the community, but is also there to consider the needs and best interest of the juvenile delinquent since he or she is a child. Right away, the difference between adult criminal defendants and juvenile delinquents is apparent since the best needs of the juvenile delinquent are included as a proper consideration in the purpose of article 3 of the Family Court Act, the juvenile delinquent article. I have found in my practice all around the New York City and surrounding areas as a criminal defense attorney and Long Island Family Law Lawyer that there are nuances in handling juvenile matters.
Juvenile Delinquents are children over seven and under sixteen that are found to have done an act, which if committed by an adult would be a crime. The treatment is given either because the juvenile is to be considered not criminally responsible because of his or her infancy or the case was removed from a criminal court to the family court. Generally, the same statutes of limitations that apply to adult criminal proceedings apply to juveniles except for certain designated felonies which also must be commenced before the respondent’s eighteenth or twenty first birthdays depending on the felony. The criminal procedure law is not applicable to juvenile delinquency proceedings except in certain instances. For example, the Family Court Acts specifically provides that double jeopardy is also applicable to juvenile proceedings. The Family Court Act also specifically requires that the defenses outlined in articles thirty five and section 30.05 of the penal law apply to juvenile delinquency cases.
When an alleged juvenile offender is arrested they are only fingerprinted if they are certain ages and are accused of certain felonies. The specifics ages and charges for which fingerprinting apply are outlined in the Family Court Act Section 306. The trier of fact in a juvenile proceeding is a judge. There are no jury trials in Family Court. The Family Court Act dictates the applicable rules of evidence. The burden of proof, like for adults, is beyond a reasonable doubt which is the highest burden in our justice system. If the Respondent is found to have committed a juvenile delinquency act beyond a reasonable doubt then the case shifts to a dispositional hearing. The Respondent might be conditionally discharged, put on probation, or placed in custody among other alternatives. Again the needs of the Respondent and safety of the community are weighed.
If the Respondent committed a designated felony act placement of the juvenile might be made according to Family Court Act Section 353.5. In other cases the least restrictive type of placement is to be considered. Juvenile Delinquency proceedings may be sealed and expunged when a child becomes an adult. These procedures are also contained in the Family Court Act.
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