Children who are charged with crimes will often have these crimes adjudicated in the Family Court of New York. These children are entitled to virtually the same rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution in the Family Courts they would have if they were prosecuted in the Criminal Courts in New York.
Similarities and Differences Between the Family Courts and Criminal Courts in New York
There are similarities and differences between the prosecution of a crime in the Family Court in New York vis a vis the prosecution of the same or similar crime of an adult in the Criminal Courts. To start with, the prosecutor is called the “presentment agency” instead of “The People of the State of New York”. There is no District Attorney’s office representing the prosecution in the Family Courts. In the City of New York the prosecutors is the Corporation Counsels Office and in the suburban counties outside the City of New York the prosecutors are the County Attorney’s Office. In the Criminal Courts individuals charged with a crime can be released on their own recognizance instead of bail being posted. In the Family Courts the children are released to their parent’s custody. There is no bail statute affecting release in the family court.
The trial in a criminal prosecution in the Family Court is referred to as a fact finding hearing. The finding of a Family Court, instead of being that the individual is guilty, is a finding of “adjudication of juvenile delinquency”. In the Criminal Court an individual found guilty can be sentenced to jail. In the Family Court the sentence of a child is called a placement in a facility.
Motion Practice in the Family Courts
As in the Criminal Courts, Motions to Suppress evidence and Motions to Dismiss in the interest of justice can be made to the judge.
No Jury Trials in the Family Court
Juveniles in the Family Court do not have a right to a jury trial. Adults in Criminal Court are entitled to trial by jury in both misdemeanor and felony proceedings. In misdemeanor proceedings six person juries are used while in felony proceedings twelve person juries are used.
Plea bargaining is a process in the Criminal Courts where an individual charged with a crime can plead guilty to a lesser crime for the purpose of receiving a no jail commitment or a sentencing commitment from a judge that is much more lenient than if he or she had been found guilty of the original crime. In the Family Court instead of plea bargaining the juvenile makes an admission to a lesser charge. Unlike in the Criminal Courts there is no commitment by the court with regard to sentencing. The reason for the lack of commitment for sentencing in the Family Court relates to the mission of the Family Court. It takes into the consideration the best interests of the child and the protection of the community when dealing with sentencing issues.
Convictions In The Family Court
If a juvenile is convicted in Family Court after the fact finding hearing there is a second hearing called the dispositional hearing. During the disposition hearing the attorney for the child can present to the court a plan to deal with the issues raised in the case. These plans can deal with sentencing alternatives involving placement in schools, community based programs, drug treatment counseling and other types of alternative sentencing programs. The judge at a dispositional hearing will render a decision as to whether the child requires confinement, treatment or supervision. The court can also conditionally discharge the child into the custody of his or her parents.
Family Court Legal Representation
Although there are similarities between the prosecution of a juvenile in the Family Court and the Criminal Courts, should you have a child that is charged with a crime pending in the Family Court before retaining counsel you should discuss the attorneys experience in representing minors in the Family Court. Although there are similarities and differences between criminal prosecutions in the Family Court and in the Criminal Courts an attorney with experience and expertise in dealing with Family Court matters may obtain a better result than an attorney that only deals with prosecutions of individuals in the Criminal Courts in New York.
Family Court Lawyers
The Family Court Lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been representing minors charged with both misdemeanors and felonies in the Family Courts in the metropolitan New York area for more than thirty years. Our firm represents juveniles charged with misdemeanors and felonies in the Family Courts of the five boroughs of the City of New York, Westchester County, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. In addition the firm represents individuals charged with assault and battery, shop lifting, burglary, driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI), weapons possession, traffic tickets, computer crimes and internet crimes in the criminal courts. We also help our clients arrange for bail so they can be released from jail. Call us for a free consultation.