New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Raise the Age” legislation into law in April 2019. Basically, it means that juveniles aged sixteen and seventeen will be prosecuted in Family Courts in New York instead of Criminal Courts. Starting October 1, 2019 sixteen and seventeen year olds, for the majority of arrests, will have their cases heard before a Family Court Judge from the inception of the criminal case or after being transferred from the regular Criminal Court calendar if the offense pre-dates October 2019.
All misdemeanors, other than Vehicle and Traffic Law offenses, will fall under the jurisdiction of the New York Family Law Act. Juvenile felony offenses will start in Criminal Court. Juvenile felony offenses are divided by violent and non- violent offenses. If the juvenile is charged with a non-violent felony offense, the Prosecutor must file a motion within 30 days establishing extraordinary circumstances why the case should remain in Criminal Court and not be transferred to Family Court. If the motion is filed, the Criminal Court Judge can grant a hearing on the subject of whether the case should remain in Criminal Court or be transferred to Family Court.
Most violent felony offenses follow the same procedure as non-violent felony offenses. However, if the offense involved a weapon, caused certain physical injuries or involved sexual conduct then the Prosecutor’s consent is required to transfer the case from Criminal Court to Family Court. Juvenile felony drug cases and Vehicle and Traffic Law cases can never be transferred from Criminal Court to Family Court.
Certain juvenile cases will still be prosecuted in Criminal Court. Defendant’s known as “Adolescent Offenders,” can receive the same sentence as an adult but the sentencing Judge must take the Defendant’s age into consideration at the time of the sentencing. Adolescent Offenders are eligible for Youthful Offender Adjudication (YO).