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How are juveniles classified in New York's criminal court system?

Every year, thousands of people under the age of 18 are charged with various crimes, from shoplifting to drug possession. In New York, children and teens from ages 7 to 16 can be charged with a crime and go to court. Generally, these minors will be classified as juvenile delinquents, juvenile offenders, or youthful offenders.

Cases involving a juvenile delinquent are typically decided in Family Court and do not result in jail time. Instead, the court may determine that the child needs supervision or treatment. If the child requires a placement outside of his or her parents' care, then the court may contact the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to find a home for the child. If a child is convicted as a juvenile delinquent, only police and prosecutors can see their records.

Juvenile offenders are typically children ages 13 to 15 who have committed a violent act or felony. They are often treated like adults. Their cases are heard in County Court or the Supreme Court, they may be sentenced as an adult, and their records will not be sealed. However, juvenile offenders may have their cases transferred to Family Court depending on the circumstances, thereby allowing for the sealing of their records.

Lastly, a child may be classified as a youthful offender if they are 16, 17, or 18 years of age and commit a crime. Youthful offenders will generally be treated as an adult, but if the judge gives them youthful offender status at the sentencing, they may be able to avoid having a criminal record of the crime. However, to qualify for this status, the juvenile must be 16 to 18 years old at the time of the crime, have no prior felonies, and never been previously classified as a youthful offender. Youthful offender records are sealed and do not have to be reported as a criminal conviction on job or college applications.

Juvenile law matters can result long-lasting consequences and significantly impact your child's future. An attorney with extensive criminal defense experience may be able to help protect your child by crafting and presenting persuasive and legally sound arguments.

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