Juvenile Crimes Lawyer in Buffalo, NY
If a child between the ages of 7 and 16 commits a crime, they can be held to account, but not by the criminal justice system. Instead, their crimes are tried in family court under the Family Court Act Article 3, Section 301.2(a). It is essentially the equivalent of charging a child with a crime. In fact, anyone 19 years of age or younger may qualify for youthful offender status under New York State law.
The Juvenile Criminal Process
Juveniles are not considered to have the same level of intellectual or emotional development as adults and are thus held to a lower standard in the vast majority of cases, murder notwithstanding. While a family court judge can sentence a child to juvenile detention, mandatory treatment, or any other remuneration, there is typically a discussion between the judge, the prosecution, and the defense concerning the outcome. In criminal court, the proceedings are adversarial. However, if the child is under 16 years of age, they will be adjudicated as a “juvenile offender” even if their crimes are extremely serious.
Juvenile Offender Status
The goal of any juvenile defense team will be to ensure that the defendant stays out of juvenile detention and, failing that, is adjudicated as a juvenile. Those who are adjudicated as juveniles do not have criminal records. This is critical for protecting the child's future. Juvenile adjudications will not appear on a child's adult record. Potential employers and landlords will not have access to this information.
If a defendant is 19 years of age or younger, they may be eligible to have their case adjudicated with youthful offender status.
Nonetheless, juvenile prosecutions can have severe consequences without an adequate defense.
Approaches to Juvenile Crimes
Research has shown that punitive measures to decrease juvenile crime rates have not been successful. Instead, the focus has shifted toward rehabilitation and ensuring that the juvenile offender gets the tools they need to effectively manage their impulses and become upstanding members of society. However, prosecutors can charge children as adults in the most serious cases and imprisonment of up to nine years in juvenile detention is a possible consequence of their actions.
Fighting the Charges Versus Taking a Plea
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the quality of the evidence against you, and the appropriateness of the charges, your juvenile defense attorney may recommend that you take a plea or fight the charges. If you fight the charges, you can expect to have a trial heard before a judge (not a jury). The judge will ultimately decide your case based on the totality of the evidence presented.
Contact a Skilled Buffalo, NY Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your child has been charged with a crime, you should seek out an attorney who has experience handling cases in Family Court. Call Daniel J. Dubois, Esquire today to discuss your situation in more detail, and we can begin preparing your defense today.