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Teenagers Should Not Be Tried As Adults

Jonathan Lipman is the Chief Judge of the State of New York. He seeks to reform our legal system with regard to the prosecution of teenagers as adults. He believes that teenagers who commit minor crimes should have these matters handled by the Family Courts and not the Criminal Courts. New York is one of only two states in the United States that try sixteen and seventeen year old as adults for minor offenses. Thousands of non violent youthful offenders should be given community service instead of being sentenced to jail as adults. When teenagers receive criminal records it has a negative impact in their fitting into society and obtaining meaningful employment in the future. Why should young lives be decimated by mistakes made as teenagers! Sometimes these teenagers are convicted before they grow into mature, reasonable adults. They should at least be given a chance to succeed.

Judge Lipman seeks to have the State Sentencing Commission submit a new bill to the State Legislature in 2012. He wants teenagers accused only of violent crimes prosecuted as adults. Teenagers who are charged with non violent crimes will have their cases handling under a pilot project in the Criminal Courts. Judge Lipman feels being more insightful with regard to the handling of cases involving teenagers in the long run is a better policy and will save large sums of money for the State’s present recidivism and eliminate unnecessary prison overcrowding.

I strongly agree with Judge Lipman’s suggestions. I hope the State Legislature will carry through with his ideas.

Family Court Lawyers

The Family Courts in the State of New York handle a variety of cases. They deal with orders of protection, child custody matters, juvenile cases, child abuse and child neglect cases. In addition, they deal with all types of problems involving juveniles. Both father’s rights and mother’s rights need to be protected in cases involving orders of protection in the Family Courts.

Our office can also assist you with regard to divorce related issues in the Supreme Courts. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Gravity Knife Not Admitted into Evidence, Case Dismissed

gravity-150x150In a recent case in New York County, Judge Martino, sitting in the Family Court, dismissed a juvenile proceeding. The juvenile was walking in February in what the police referred to as a high crime area. Police officers saw the juvenile walking alone. He was wearing a winter jacket and had a black ski mask. When the juvenile saw the police officers, he changed directions. He also put his hands in his pocket while walking away. The police officer stopped him and questioned him. They asked if he had any weapons on him. They then searched him and found a gravity knife.

Appeal Taken

The Appellate Division, an Appeals Court, held that looking startled and walking away from police officers is not criminal behavior. This does not generate a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. The court thereafter ruled that the police officers did not have the level of suspicion necessary to ask questions that could be incriminating, even in a high crime neighborhood. The court rule also found that wearing a ski mask and a heavy jacket in February while putting one’s hands in one’s pocket did not rise to the level of suspicion required under common law to indicate a crime was committed. The knife was suppressed, the case was dismissed.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for committing a crime, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you. We represent individuals charged with a variety of offenses including, but not limited to, white collar crimes, violent crimes, sex crimes, weapons possession, drunk driving (DWI), shoplifting, burglary, juvenile defenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, drug offenses and all types of felonies and misdemeanors. Call us should you have criminal problems. We can help you!

Alternative Programs for Juvenile Offense Punishment

juvenile-criminalsGovernor David Patterson has established a juvenile justice task force authorized to investigate circumstances and procedures for sentencing juveniles in the State of New York. The task force has suggested that New York should stop sentencing low risk juvenile offenders to facilities far from their family residences. The task force has suggested in the alternative that they be sent to lower cost community based programs.

The community based programs would closely monitor the juveniles. They would establish mentoring programs for these children. There would be curfew checks, review of school performances and detailed after school programs to keep them busy. The study has shown that low risk juveniles who have been placed in similar programs can be rehabilitated without the need for institutionalization.

The task force recommendations are excellent. However, the State of New York will not be carrying them out. The budget submitted by Governor Patterson does not contain funds or programs that would encourage localities to develop the recommended community based alternative programs.

Under the current system, New York State reimburses localities for about half the cost of operating pretrial detention programs for juveniles. These costs can be as high as $200,000 per child, per year, to incarcerate a juvenile in a large institution. Presently the state has no program to reimburse localities for community based programs. These programs can cost as little as $5,000 per year.

Senator Velmanette Montgomery, a democrat from Brooklyn has proposed a bill in the State Senate to set aside $12 million to encourage programs for juvenile criminal offenders. These bill is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the legislature of the State of New York will approve it.

If your son or daughter has been charged with a juvenile offense, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you. Call us at 1-800-344-6431 or email us.

United States Supreme Court Addresses Life Sentences for Juvenile Defendants

juvenilesIn the United States today there are more than more than twenty-two hundred (2,200) juveniles who are incarcerated as adults. These juveniles are serving life sentences without the ability to obtain parole (to be released from jail prior to the end of their sentence). Among the twenty-two hundred (2,200) juveniles, there are some prisoners who are as young as thirteen (13) years old.

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court, in a close decision (5-4), held that an individual who committed a crime when he or she was younger than eighteen (18) years of age cannot be executed. The court held this was unconstitutional.

On Monday, November 16, 2009, attorneys representing two minors sentenced in the State of Florida argued before the United States Supreme Court that the theory behind the prior death penalty decision in 2005 should also be extended to minors receiving life sentences.

The theory behind the death penalty decision of the United States Supreme Court was based on two key factors: (1) minors are not as culpable for this crimes as adults and they can be reformed and (2) The Supreme Court held that it would be “cruel and unusual punishment” to execute minors. Cruel and unusual punishment is banned by the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Terrence Graham and another individual robbed a restaurant. He is in jail for this crime. In 2004, when he was only seventeen (17) years of age, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. This action was taken because he violated the terms of his probation by committing another robbery at gun point.

Joseph Sullivan, committed a burglary when he was thirteen years old. He thereafter was convicted of sexual battery against a seventy-two year old woman. Joseph Sullivan, a mentally disabled individual, has been convicted of several serious felonies and seventeen criminal offenses overall.

In the aforementioned two cases, both of the juveniles were given life sentences for crimes that did not involve homicides. It should be noted that more than 135 countries throughout the world do not allow life sentences for juveniles.

The United Nations Treaty prevents the imprisonment of children without the possibility of parole. All of the countries who are members of the United Nations with the exception of the United States and lonely Samoa have executed this treaty.

Is our society mature and sophisticated enough to deal with errant juveniles without warehousing them in prisons for their entire life?

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq.

800-344-6431

Picture courtesy of acslaw.org

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