Advocates and some lawmakers have been fighting for years to raise the age at which teenagers are automatically tried as adults. In April, they scored a victory when the governor signed a bill increasing that age from 16 to 18. The bill requires that children aged 16 or 17 who are accused of a misdemeanor be tried in family court, rather than criminal court. In addition, anyone under the age of 18 who was incarcerated when the bill passed has been or will be removed from county jails.
This is good news for the 17,000 kids charged with misdemeanors each year. However, the new law also has a lot of exceptions that could result in thousands of children under the age of 18 being tried as adults. These include 16- or 17-year-olds charged with:
- violent felonies
- sex offenses
- crimes in which significant bodily harm was done
- crimes in which a deadly weapon was displayed
In addition, under the Willie Bosket law, 13- to 17-year-olds can still be tried in criminal court if they are charged with any of the following felonies:
- criminal sexual act
- aggravated sexual abuse
- possession of a gun on school grounds
The change in New York comes on the heels of a new ruling in New Jersey that ordered judges to take age into consideration when sentencing juveniles. In New Jersey, all suspects under the age of 18 are first brought into family court. However, if the crime is severe or adult in nature (e.g. sexual assault, murder, or armed robbery) the case is usually moved to adult criminal court.
The legal system can be complex and confusing. Just because your child has made a serious mistake does not mean they deserve to suffer consequences typically reserved for an adult. If your child has been accused of a crime in New York or New Jersey, contact a lawyer right away. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping young people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.