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Juvenile Until Age 16

In New York, children up to the age of 16 are tried in the juvenile system. The purpose of juvenile justice is to prevent acts done at immature ages from unfairly devastating the lives of the very young. In the New York juvenile justice system there are special rules to distinguish young offenders from adult criminals.

Nearly all states do not begin to try teenagers as adults until they reach the age of 17 or 18 years.  New York and North Carolina are the only states that currently try 16 year olds as adults. There is currently a push for raising the age qualification in New York to 18 and a bill to create an alternative system for 16- and 17-year-old nonviolent offenders faces a vote in the New York State Senate early this year.

Outcomes for juveniles

The difference between the juvenile and adult system is the emphasis on rehabilitation and correction rather than punishment. Once a child is found responsible for a juvenile offense, the judge may order one of the following:

  • Conditional discharge – the child may live at home without court supervision on the condition that there are no further offenses for a set period of time
  • Order of probation – the child lives at home but is under the supervision of a probation officer
  • Residential placement — the child is placed in a group home or other secure residence for juveniles

 If your child is arrested, contact an experienced juvenile lawyer as soon as possible. The presentation of your child’s case to the judge can mean the difference between your child being under your supervision and living at home and being placed in an outside facility. Your child’s future may depend on having an advocate who understands the system inside and out.

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