Recent legislation called “Raise the Age” changed the NYS Law such that now youths between the ages of 16 and 17 who are charged with felony crimes are treated as Adolescent Offenders (AO) rather than adults. AO cases start out in what is known as Youth Part and are heard by a Family Court Judge. Many of the cases are ultimately transferred to Family Court where the youth will be treated as a Juvenile Delinquent(JD). As a JD the youth’s criminal record will be sealed. Adolescent Offenders that stay in Youth Part are treated as adults, but at sentencing the Judge will consider the age of the youth in determining an appropriate sentence. Additionally, AOs have access to intervention services and programs.
WHO IS CONSIDERED AN ADOLESCENT OFFENDER?
An Adolescent Offender is a youth between the ages of sixteen and seventeen years old who commits a serious crime called a felony.
WHAT KIND OF CASES ARE INVOLVED?
Adolescent Offender cases are felony criminal matters that involve all types of serious crimes including violent crimes like murder, rape, and robbery as well as non-violent crimes like the theft of a motor vehicle and criminal mischief.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF ADOLESCENT OFFENDER CASES?
The ‘Raise the Age’ legislation that created AO cases was enacted to raise the age of criminal responsibility in NYS from the age of 16 to the age of 18. The point of the the AO case is to ensure that youth involved in the criminal justice system are provided with age-appropriate, rehabilitative programs and facilities to become productive and successful adults.
DOES AN ADOLESCENT OFFENDER HAVE THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL?
Yes. An AO must be represented by counsel, even at the first appearance. An attorney from the Assigned Counsel Program is appointed to the AO by the Court, free of charge. The youth or his family may also hire an attorney for the AO if they so chose.