When are Teens Tried as Adults in New York?
Jean Sanchez was 13 years old when killed another 13-year-old boy in May of 2014. His defense team argued that refusing to hear Sanchez’s case as a juvenile was a violation of his constitutional due process rights. The judge, however, refused this argument and ordered Sanchez to be tried in adult court.
Although studies done on the number of juveniles tried in adult criminal court are not very recent, in 1998 The Bureau of Justice Statistics obtained data from 40 of the nation’s largest urban counties and found that 7,100 juveniles were charged as adults in criminal matters. Further, in these criminal courts, the juveniles were 64% more likely to be charged with a violent felony than adults.
New York Law Automatically Charges Teens 16 Years and Older as Adults
There are only two states in the nation that charge teens as adults once they turn 16 years old. One is North Carolina and the other is New York. New york additionally allows for the arrest of children as young as 7 years old for acts of juvenile delinquency.
If a child between the ages of 7 and 16 is arrested on charges of juvenile delinquency, he or she can be tried in family court rather than adult criminal court. The juvenile may be subject to overnight detention if family court is not in session. A fact-finding hearing will commence without a jury and the judge will make a decision as to whether or not the child committed the acts they have been accused of. During this fact-finding hearing, the defense attorney is allowed to cross-examine witnesses presented by the prosecuting side. If the judge decides that the juvenile defendant is guilty, the judge will then deem the defendant a “juvenile delinquent” and may require the child to be placed under supervision either at their own home or be sent to a group facility. Even though the punishments are less severe, a child being prosecuted in family court for a juvenile offence still must be represented by an attorney.
To contrast, it is crucial to know that in some circumstances, a child of 13 to 15 years old may be charged as an adult and subject to criminal court. Typically, the prosecutors reserve this heightened punishment for cases where the teen is accused of extreme malice, as with the Sanchez case described above. If a teen is convicted in adult criminal court, they are subject to the same harsh punishments as adults despite the fact that many studies show teen brains do not fully mature until about 25 years old.
A New York Juvenile Crime Attorney is Necessary for the Defense of Minors
Over the last few years, there has been a call to raise the age of the automatic criminal prosecution of teens from 16 years old to 18 years old. As of yet, this legislative change has not happened, but Phillip J. Murphy, is dedicated to staying abreast of all laws affecting youthful offenses not only in New York, but New Jersey as well. Attorney Phillip J. Murphy has over 25 years of experience aggressively defending criminal cases and he knows that if your child has been arrested either for juvenile delinquency or a more serious crime, you must obtain legal counsel right away.