Crimes Committed by Children Between 7-18

Starting at age seven, children can be brought to court if they are accused of committing a crime. Where the case is handled and how the child is treated depends on a number of factors including the child’s age, intent and past record. Youth who are accused of committing crimes fall into three categories: Juvenile Delinquent, Juvenile Offender, and Adolescent Offender.


Juvenile Delinquents

A Juvenile Delinquent is a child over 7, but under 18 years of age (effective 10/1/19), who commits an act that would be a crime if it had been committed by an adult. Juvenile offenders, who are 13, 14, and 15 years of age, are not considered Juvenile Delinquents. Cases involving Juvenile Delinquents are handled in Family Court. Juvenile Delinquents do not go to adult jails. Instead, the court decides if they need supervision, treatment or placement through the local department of social services or the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Juvenile Delinquents do not have criminal records. Family Court proceedings are confidential and in some instances the cases can be sealed.

Effective 10/1/2019:

  • 16 and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors under the penal law are considered Juvenile Delinquents and their cases are decided in the Family Court.
  • 16 and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors under the Vehicle and Traffic Law are considered adults and their cases are decided in the local criminal court.
  • 16 and 17-year-olds charged with felonies are considered Adolescent Offenders and, if their cases are removed from the Youth Part in Supreme or County Court to Family Court, they will then be considered Juvenile Delinquents.


Juvenile Offenders

A child who is 13, 14, or 15-years-old and is charged with committing a serious or violent felony offense listed in Penal Law 10.00 (18), is considered a Juvenile Offender. These cases are heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court. Juvenile Offenders who are convicted after a plea or a trial are subject to less severe sentences than adults. Juvenile Offenders who are convicted will have a permanent criminal record unless the Court grants Youth Offender status.

Juvenile Offender cases can be transferred to Family Court if the Court determines that the transfer would be in the interests of justice. Upon transfer to Family Court, the child is then considered a Juvenile Delinquent.


Youthful Offenders

Youthful Offender status allows a youth to avoid the consequences of a permanent criminal record. To be eligible, the Youth must be at least 14 and less than 19 years of age. At sentencing, the Court determines whether or not to grant Youthful Offender status. If the Court grants it, the criminal conviction is replaced by the Youthful Offender status and the youth will no longer have a criminal record. Learn more about Youthful Offenders.


Adolescent Offenders

As of October 1, 2019, a 16 or 17-year-old who commits a felony is an adolescent offender. This means that the case is originally heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court. However, the case may be transferred to the Family Court, where the youth will be considered a juvenile delinquent and will be eligible to receive all the services and programs available to all juvenile delinquents. Learn more about Adolescent Offenders.


Raise the Age

As of October 1, 2019, New York State has raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18. This legislation is commonly referred to as the “Raise the Age” law. The “Raise the Age” law also created new Youth Parts and a new adolescent offender category. Learn more about Raise the Age. See the Raise the Age Flowchart.

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