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New York Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

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It’s 7:28 pm on Tuesday evening and you’re wondering where your 15-year-old child is. Suddenly the phone rings – it’s your child. She’s calling from the local jail after having been arrested for shoplifting. Your reaction is a mix of panic, shock, and anger. Having a child arrested is a frightening experience. Worse, the repercussions of the arrest and criminal charges can have a ripple effect throughout your child’s life. Thankfully, the New York court system is more tolerant of juvenile offenders than adult offenders. While adults, those 17 years of age and older, are subjected to the criminal courts of New York, those under 17 years of age are considered juveniles and subject to a different court system –- the juvenile court system. The New York juvenile court system is designed to help juvenile offenders learn from their mistakes and positively contribute to society following the offense. However, this doesn’t mean that the effects of the arrest and charge won’t reverberate throughout your child’s life and your own. Juvenile criminal charges, like adult criminal charges, can affect employment and education opportunities. To ensure that your child is protected, it is essential to hire a premier juvenile criminal defense attorney specializing in juvenile defense.

At Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP (Barket Epstein), our attorneys have decades of experience in successfully defending juveniles. We understand that you will have lots of questions relating to the process and what your child could be facing. This understanding is what drives our commitment to our clients. We commit to respecting you and your child; we commit to be honest and prompt in all communications; and we commit to tirelessly investigate the allegations examine the evidence. With more than 100 years of collective legal experience, we have successfully represented juvenile defendants in Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island, and the Greater New York City area. If your child has been charged with a criminal offense in New York, please contact one of our offices today for a free consultation. The sooner we hear from you, the sooner we can help.

Who May Be Tried as a Juvenile?

Prior to October 2018, children aged 16 and older could be charged as adults. However, as a result of the “Raise the Age” legislation passed into law in April 2017, the age for juveniles was increased to 17 years of age in October 2018, and will again increase in October 2019 to 18 years of age. Thus, children younger than 17 years of age but older than 7 years of age can be charged as a juvenile. Additionally, the juvenile justice system can now claim jurisdiction over an offender for acts committed prior to the alleged offender’s 17th birthday.

Despite juvenile courts having jurisdiction over allegations of criminal activity committed by those between 7 and 17 years of age, there is no guarantee that the charge will fall within the juvenile justice system. For certain crimes, and for certain juveniles with a history of criminal activity, the charges may be brought in the criminal court where the juvenile may be tried as an adult. Situations where a juvenile is tried as an adult usually result from felony crimes, prior convictions, or other aggravating circumstances.

How do Juvenile Courts Differ from New York State Criminal Courts?

If your child is under 17 years of age, she is likely to be charged in juvenile court rather than state criminal court. The first major difference between New York State Criminal Courts and juvenile courts are that juvenile cases are heard under the authority of the New York Family Court system.

The second major difference between adult criminal courts and juvenile family courts is that while an adult is charged with a crime, a juvenile is charged with a delinquent act. The term “delinquent act” is less harsh and better defines the goal of the juvenile justice system which is to rehabilitate, rather than simply punish, the offender.

The third major difference is that juvenile hearings are meant to be fact-finding rather than adversarial prosecutions like those seen in adult criminal cases. Whereas a jury is presented with evidence in a criminal trial, a juvenile hearing will result in the production of evidence to the judge who will then decide whether the evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the juvenile committed the alleged act(s).

What are the Consequences?

Although the focus of the juvenile court system is rehabilitation, being convicted of a crime, or delinquent act, as a juvenile can have lasting repercussions. In addition to potential jail or rehabilitation programs, your child may face large fines and lengthy probation sentences. However, the effects of the conviction often seep outside of the justice system if not correctly handled by an attorney experienced in the juvenile court system.

When applying for certain jobs or colleges, your child may have to disclose prior criminal convictions. This can lead to failure to gain employment or failure to be admitted to the University of her choice. Additionally, convictions for certain crimes or delinquent acts can limit the availability of education funding available to your child, potentially limiting his ability to attend college. Although the penalties associated with a delinquent act or criminal conviction as a juvenile may seem to contradict the rehabilitation focus of the juvenile court system, the long-term consequences are offset by the ability to have the court record sealed to protect the juvenile from future ramifications.

Contact Our New York Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

At Barket Epstein, we pride ourselves on our strong relationship with our clients. We utilize advocacy both inside and outside the courtroom to ensure that your child gets the outcome he or she deserves. We are here to help, but we need to hear from you first. If your child has been charged with a criminal offense in New York, please contact one of our offices today for a free consultation.