YOUTHFUL OFFENDER CASES UNDER NEW YORK LAW We Take Care Of Your Kids Like The Are Our Own
Our New York City and White Plains criminal defense lawyers have defended numerous criminal charges involving young offenders and teenagers who are charged with crimes. 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 found guilty, to avoid having a permanent criminal record. 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 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. Our attorneys know that sometimes kids do stupid things and make poor choices but those bad, choices don’t have to follow them for the rest of their lives. For young people between the age of 16 and 18 years, who are arrested, there are a number of paths which the law provides to avoid the stigma of criminal records.
WHAT DO I DO IF THE POLICE CALLED FOR MY SON OR DAUGHTER
If your child receives a call from the police or a detective, call an attorney right away. If the police show up looking for your child, ask them if they have a warrant. If they don't, ask for their contact information and tell them you will have your lawyer contact them. To often the police are overly aggressive with teenagers, who by their nature are impressionable, and get them to confess to things they didn't even do in an interrogation by putting pressure on them. One of the classic techniques that police officers and detectives use with children is to tell them they are not going home tonight, unless they admit to whatever it is they are accused of. The detectives and police often trick teenagers by telling them the Courts will go easier on them, if they just admit to doing whatever they are charged with. Once a scared teenager admits to something, it is an uphill battle to get the truth out or to prove undue pressure or that improper tactics were used. So our White Plains criminal defense attorneys recommend that you never let your child speak with a police officer or detective, without an attorney present, if they are suspected of a crime. If an police officer tells you that your child doesn't need an attorney, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. It is for their own protection.
THE CASES WE COMMONLY HANDLE FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Among the most common crimes that our criminal defense attorneys see young people charged with, are assaults, shoplifting, possession of marijuana, possession of a fake I.D. (usually stating they are 21 years old), criminal mischief (damaging property), Driving While Intoxicated DWI, driving without a license or with a suspended license, unathorized use of a vehicle (joy riding) and drug possession. Fortunately, prosecutors in Westchester and Manhattan 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, which are not criminal convictions. With an A.C.D. or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, the case is adjourned for six months and as long 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, such as an assault, 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 college, 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. One of the major benefits to a young person who is charged with a sexual offense is, that if the case can be resolved with a youthful offender adjudication, there is no registration as under the Sexual Offender Registration Act (SORA). A sexual offender registration carries with it a terrible stigma that can follow someone for the rest of their life, so if a criminal charge cannot be resolved without any SORA registration, that is a major benefit for a young person.
Additionally, if a person was previously convicted for a felony or received a youthful offender adjudication for a felony, they are not eligible. Talk with a White Plains Youthful offenders lawyer to discuss your case. We offer Free Consultation to clients.
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 altogether. 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.