WHAT IS JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROCEEDING?
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It is the proceeding in New York Family Court that adjudicates the alleged commission of an offense by a minor child at least 7 years old and less than 16 years old. When such a juvenile child is arrested in the State of New York, he or she may be issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (“DAT”) by police to appear in Family Court in the county where the alleged offense has been committed. Alternatively, when the offense is serious and/or the child has a prior history of contacts with the Criminal Justice System, the child may be held overnight in the secure detention facility and brought to Family court the next day the Court is in session.
Once the child appears in Court with the parent or legal guardian, he/she and the parent will be interviewed by the Probation Department and, based on the allegations of the complaint, prior history of the child, and the wishes of the alleged victim and/or victim’s parent, if the victim is himself a minor, the case may be processed through adjustment by probation. Under this scenario, the juvenile delinquency petition is not filed, and the child agrees to abide by probation rules for an initial period of up to 60 days. The child must maintain good school attendance, report to probation when directed, complete written essay and/or community service as directed by the assigned probation officer, and do not get rearrested. If the child complies, the case will be dismissed.
In case of the allegation that minor committed serious offenses called designated felonies, or if the victim wants to go forward with the case, New York City Law Department, that acts as a prosecutor in juvenile delinquency proceeding, will file a juvenile delinquency petition and the child will be ordered to see the Judge. Juvenile Delinquency proceeding is similar to the proceeding in adult criminal court, however, there are significant differences: there is no bail option for a juvenile – it is either remand pending the disposition of the case or release to the custody of parent/guardian; there is no right to a jury trial – fact-finding hearing by the Judge instead; there is no criminal conviction – juvenile delinquency adjudication instead; disposition options are somewhat different, including dismissal, conditional discharge, probation of up to 2 years or placement in a secure or non-secure detention facility for an initial period of up to 18 months. For the most serious crimes allegedly committed by juveniles at least 13 years of age, the prosecutor has an option to remove the case to an adult criminal court.