New York’s Raise the Age Law

Youth Court and Juvenile Offenders

In October 2019, the New York State “Raise the Age” laws went into effect, significantly changing the way children and 16- and 17-year-olds are prosecuted for crimes in New York State. The new system is designed to protect Youthful and Juvenile Offenders, but the system can be complex.

How Are 16- and 17-Year-Olds Prosecuted Under Raise the Age in Westchester County?

  • Non-criminal violations and Vehicle and Traffic Law Misdemeanors are prosecuted in the local justice court.
  • Penal Law Misdemeanors are sent either to the Department of Probation diversion program and/or Family Court.
  • Non-Violent Felonies all start in the Youth Court of Westchester County. Once in Youth Court, the matter will be referred to the Family Court unless there are “extraordinary circumstances.”
  • Violent Felonies start in the Youth Court and will be transferred to the Family Court unless the crime involved significant physical injury, a weapon, or a sex offense. The criminal matter may also stay in the Youth Court if there are “extraordinary circumstances.”

Are Parents Notified of an Arrest?

Yes, the police must notify parents when a juvenile or adolescent offender is arrested. If the police want to interrogate or question the youth, it must be in an appropriate location and for a limited time.

If a parent is present at the police interrogation, the parents must be notified of their and their child’s rights. The most important rights are the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present.

What Are Juvenile Offenders?

A child who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and is charged with committing a serious or violent felony is considered a Juvenile Offender. In Westchester County, these felony criminal matters are sent to the Youth Court. A Juvenile Offender case can be transferred to Family Court if the transfer would be in the interests of Justice. In the Family Court, the Juvenile Offender is referred to as a Juvenile Delinquent.

Where Is the Youth Court in Westchester County?

The Youth Court is located in the Annex of the Westchester County Courthouse at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, White Plains, NY. Judge Helen M. Blackwood is assigned to the Youth Court and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office serves as the prosecutor. Initially, the police department will serve a youth with an appearance ticket for a specific date and time to appear before the Youth Part. The Youth Part in Westchester County usually meets on Thursdays at 2:00 pm.

Does a Child Summoned to Appear in the Youth Court Need an Attorney?

Absolutely. This is a significant legal process, and legal counsel is necessary to protect the rights of the child. At the initial appearance an arraignment will take place, bail will be discussed, orders of protection may be issued and, importantly, significant issues will be discussed regarding how the child’s case will progress.

Who Are the Best Youth Court Attorneys?

As the Youth Court is a recent addition to the New York State Court System, the best Youth Court attorneys should already have experience in the Youth Court process, criminal law, the probation diversion program and, moreover, the attorney must have experience with Family Court matters. This is the core of the entire Youth Court Process.

In addition, the best Youth Court attorneys will have experience with Child Protective Services (CPS) matters and disciplinary proceedings brought by local school districts. Depending on the unique facts of the case, any one or more of these areas of the law will be utilized in the prosecution or defense of the child.

Are the Attorneys at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP Youth Court Lawyers?

Yes, the Youth Court Attorneys at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP are experienced attorneys in all the areas of law necessary to protect a youth charged with a crime. For example, our Attorneys appear in the Westchester County Youth Court, are former Westchester County prosecutors and have over 22 years of experience in Westchester County criminal and family courts. Moreover, we are published authors in the area of criminal defense.

Our law firm is in the unique position to bring our experience across several areas of law to protect the child offender and their family. Our goal is to protect the rights of the youth, avoid any significant consequences of the arrest/prosecution and make every effort to prevent a damaging permanent record.

At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our Youth Court attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Our offices are located in White Plains and downtown Peekskill. Call today for a consultation (914) 840-5104 or submit an online form here.