There is a significant change on the horizon in New York. Starting in 2019, criminal courts will no longer automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year olds as adults. The age limit for adult prosecution will increase to 18, with the final counties recognizing the change in October 2019. Why is this change happening and why is it so important?
Juveniles Tried as Adults Suffer Unfair Consequences
Currently, New York criminal law requires anyone ages 16-years or older to be automatically prosecuted as an adult when charged with a crime. This rule means only adolescents under the age of 16 can be charged with a juvenile crime. The only other state in the country with such a low minimum age for adult prosecution is North Carolina.
Studies of the criminal justice system, societal influences, public safety, and even human psychology have all consistently shown the adult prosecution of adolescents is ineffective and unreasonable. The adult criminal justice system utilizes harsh penalties like steep fines and lengthy jail time. Even a single conviction will stunt an adolescent’s development for years and years, making it nearly impossible for them to continue education, find gainful employment, be approved when applying for tenancy, and live a normal life.
However, the juvenile criminal justice system focuses on rehabilitation and behavioral adjustments, not just severe penalties from wrongdoing. Adolescents who are prosecuted as such have a much better chance of learning from their mistakes and moving past them than those treated as adults in court. The 2019 change to New York law is therefore quite significant in that thousands of adolescents each year will face a far fairer criminal justice system after being arrested or charged with a crime.
It is important to note that juveniles can still be tried as adults under certain circumstances. When a juvenile is charged with a particularly severe crime, such as homicide, or if they have an extensive conviction record, a judge has the authority to try them as an adult.
For more information about the adult prosecution age increase in New York, you can visit Raise the Age | NY website. If your child has been charged with a serious crime, contact the Westchester criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Robert Schuster. Whether your child is being prosecuted as an adult or a juvenile, the law firm has the extensive experience and insight needed to protect their rights and future.
Get a complimentary over-the-phone case evaluation by dialing 914-241-0004 today.