Sixteen-year-olds accused of committing a crime in New York State will now be handled differently by police and in court.
The new “Raise the Age” law takes partial effect on October 1, 2018.
Misdemeanor crimes, with some exceptions, will now go through local family courts rather than criminal courts. Those exceptions, which include certain violations or traffic offenses, will still have to go to criminal court.
This change could result in different programs and agencies having a chance to course-correct a 16-year-old’s behavior. They may see a probation officer before they face a judge.
Erie County’s former Acting District Attorney, Michael Flaherty, explained that 16-year-olds who commit felonies will now be considered adolescent offenders.
Their cases will go to the newly established Youth Part of the supreme court, presided by a family court judge with specialized training in dealing with 16-year-olds.
“Violent felonies also would be handled in the Youth Part, but the consequences of those violent felonies – which could include murder, causing serious physical injury, or the use of a firearm – may still result in a sanction, a penalty, that would be given out to an adult,” said Flaherty.
The new law also means a 16-year-old cannot be questioned by police without his or her parents.
They can also not be held in a jail with general population adults, either. Flaherty said that police will have the responsibility of transporting the sixteen-year-olds to a “designated youth facility.”
The law will eventually apply to 17-year-olds when part two of the legislation takes effect in 2019.