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The juvenile justice system in New York may seem quite similar to the “adult” criminal justice system in the state. However, the reality is that the juvenile justice system differs quite significantly from the criminal justice system in New York. Each year, many juveniles in Long Island find themselves involved in the court system.
If your child faces a court case, consulting with a Long Island juvenile defense lawyer is important. You need to take a proactive stance in reaching out to a skilled and experienced Long Island juvenile defense lawyer.
Crimes Versus Delinquent Acts
A minor who engages in conduct that would be a crime if undertaken by an adult is considered to have committed a delinquent act. Pursuant to New York law, as a general rule, a minor is not prosecuted for committing a crime. A minor is adjudicated for committing a delinquent act. There are exceptions to this rule that will be discussed in a moment. These depend on the age of the child and nature of the acts underpinning the case.
The Juvenile Court System in New York
New York has something of a two-tiered system when it comes to cases involving juveniles. A child of at least seven, but is 16 years of age or less, is adjudicated in Family Court if a case of delinquency is filed. If an adjudication of the child is “successful,” the minor is deemed a juvenile delinquent. He or she is not deemed to have been convicted of a crime.
A child who is 13, 14, or 15 can be treated as an adult and prosecuted for committing a crime in a New York Supreme Court, depending on the circumstances of a case. This occurs when the charges against a child in this age range is considered serious. If dealt with in this manner, a minor in his age range can be found guilty of a crime.
If a child initially is charged in Supreme Court, a Long Island juvenile defense lawyer can seek to have the case transferred to Family Court. If a transfer occurs, and a successful adjudication occurs, the minor is not convicted of a crime. Rather, in this situation, the minor is deemed to be a juvenile offender.
Even though a person technically is still a minor between the ages of 16 and 18,
the presumption is that the juvenile will be prosecuted in the New York Supreme Court. In such a situation, a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 can face the same penalties as would an adult being prosecuted in criminal court.
In a juvenile case, a trial technically is not held. The Family Court conducts what is known as a fact-finding hearing. There is no jury in a fact-finding hearing. The judge makes the final decision as to how the final disposition of the case.
Detention of Child While Case is Pending
Although New York law dictates that a child should be kept in the least restrictive, although appropriate, environment while a case is pending in juvenile court, there are situations in which a minor is restricted to a detention facility of some sort. A goal of a Long Island juvenile defense lawyer early on in a case is taking action to avoid detention of a child away from his or her home.
The court considers a number of factors in ascertaining where a child should be placed during delinquency or offender proceedings. A skilled Long Island juvenile defense attorney is in the best position to make a suitably compelling argument that a child should be allowed to remain in his or her residence while a case pends. A lawyer has the ability to request what is known as a probable cause hearing to present evidence pertaining to the placement of the child pending the resolution of the case.
Retain a Compassionate, Experienced Long Island Juvenile Defense Lawyer
In order to protect the rights and interests of your child, you need to consult with a compassionate, committed, experienced Long Island juvenile defense lawyer. Not any lawyer will do when it comes to dealing with a juvenile delinquency or offender proceeding. Your child needs representation by an attorney with experience in juvenile cases in the Long Island Family Court.
The first step in arranging representation by a Long Island juvenile defense lawyer is what is known as an initial consultation. During this meeting, a lawyer will evaluate a case and provide possible strategies for protecting a child’s legal interests. As a general rule, a Long Island juvenile defense lawyer does not charge a fee for this preliminary appointment in a case.
The parent and child should not discuss a case with anyone until a consultation occurs with legal counsel. A child in these types of proceedings has the right to legal representation in all stages of the proceedings.