Youthful Offenders

Youthful Offenders Under New York Law

Our New York City and White Plains criminal defense lawyers have defended numerous criminal charges involving young offenders. Often parents worry that when their children get arrested in New York they will have criminal records that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Fortunately, New York law provides mechanisms for youthful offenders, even those who are guilty of crimes to avoid criminal records. Our New York City and Westchester County criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience in representing and successfully defending young people charged with crimes as adults. Our criminal defense lawyers often receive frantic calls from New York parents who say, my child was just arrested, what is going to happen. Often our advice is to take a deep breath and relax because the anticipation of the criminal process is usually worse than the actual experience. Our White Plains criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience in guiding young people and families through the criminal process and avoiding bad outcomes. From our Westchester office our criminal defense lawyers regularly appear in the local town Courts, including White Plains, Yonkers, Irvington, New Rochelle, Mount Pleasant, Port Chester, Greenburgh, Elmsford, Armonk, Scarsdale, Bronxville and Mount Vernon.

For young people between the age of 16 and 18 years, there are a number of ways which the laws provides to avoid the stigma of criminal records. Among the most common crimes we see young people charged with, the most common are assaults, shop lifting, possession of marijuana, possession of a fake I.D. (usually stating they are 21 years old), criminal mischief (damaging property), DWI and drug possession. Fortunately, prosecutors in Westchester often understand that young people make immature decisions, but do not deserve the harsh consequence of a criminal record. We have had a great deal of success in obtaining youthful offenders an A.C.D. or a violation. With an A.C.D. or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, the case is adjourned for six months and as along as the person does not get arrested again, the case will be automatically dismissed. For mere possession of marijuana, the New York criminal procedural law allows the Court to grant an A.C.D., even if the prosecutor objects.

With many other misdemeanors and even some low level felonies, we have been able to get the charges reduced to either a disorderly conduct or in the case of crimes of violence, a harassment. The benefits of these dispositions is that under New York law, they are not crimes, but are petty offenses. Therefore, they do not give the person any criminal record. Additionally the New York criminal procedural law allows for the record of the arrest and conviction to be sealed. This means that no future employer or any other member of the general public can have access to the information.

Even where a young person is convicted of a crime, be it a misdemeanor or a felony (with certain exceptions), they are eligible for a youthful offender adjudication. With a youthful offender adjudication, the criminal conviction, including most felonies, the conviction gets vacated and a youthful offender adjudication gets put in its place. A youthful offender adjudication is not a criminal conviction and cannot be accessed by the general public.

To be eligible for a youthful offender adjudication, New York penal law requires the person must be charged with a crime alleged to have been committed when he or she was at least sixteen years old and less than nineteen years old . Usually anyone younger than this is charged as a juvenile delinquent in Family Court. Additionally, certain charges are not eligible for youthful offender treatment including a class A–I or class A–II felony, (murder and certain drug charges), an armed felony, rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, or aggravated sexual abuse. Although our New York criminal defense lawyers have been able to have some these sex charges reduced to charges which do qualify for youthful offender treatment. Additionally if a person was previously convicted for a felony or received a youthful offender adjudication for a felony, they are not eligible.

Another advantage to a youthful offender finding is that the sentence which can be imposed is limited. For misdemeanors, the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor under New York law, is usually a year in jail, but for youthful offenders, the maximum sentence is six months in jail. For a felony, including class B, C, and D, felonies, the maximum sentence is what can be imposed for a class E felony, which is often dramatically lower in terms of jail. Although even for felony charges, our New York criminal defense attorneys have been able to avoid jail all together. In the case of sex crimes, one major advantage is that there is no sexual offender registration for youthful offenders. This means that when young people are convicted of sex crimes, if they are eligible for a youthful offender adjudication, they are not subject to SORA, the New York Sexual Offender Registration Act.

From our White Plains office, our Westchester criminal defense lawyers provide legal services to the communities of White Plains, Yonkers, Irvington, Mount Kisco, Rye, New Rochelle, Mount Pleasant, Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown, Port Chester, Greenburgh, Elmsford, Armonk, Scarsdale, Bronxville and Mount Vernon. From our New York City office, our attorneys proudly serve the communities of Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn.