Crimes Committed by Children Between 7-19

Starting at age seven, children can go to court if they commit a crime. Where the case is tried and how the child is punished depends on the child’s age, intent and past record. Children who commit crimes fall into four categories: juvenile deliquent, juvenile offender, youthful offender and adolescent offender.


Juvenile Delinquents

A juvenile delinquent is a child who is at least 7, but under 16 years old, and commits a crime. Criminal cases against juvenile delinquents are decided in Family Court. A 16 year old who commits a misdemeanor after September 30, 2018, is also a juvenile delinquent and the case is decided in the Family Court. But, 16 year olds who commit misdemeanors under the Vehicle and Traffic Law go to the local criminal court. 16 year olds who commit felonies are treated as Adolescent Offenders. Juvenile delinquents do not go to jail. Instead, the court decides if they need supervision, treatment or if they need placement through the local department of social services or the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The criminal record is sealed, but can be seen by police and prosecutors.

Teenagers who are 13, 14, or 15 years old may be treated as juvenile offenders.


Juvenile Offenders

A child who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and commits a serious felony or other violent act may be treated as a juvenile offender. The case is heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court, but the case can be transferred to Family Court. This is decided on a case by case basis. Convicted juvenile offenders can be punished like adults. Juvenile Offender’s criminal records are not sealed, unless the case is sent to Family Court.


Youthful Offenders

A 17 or 18 year old who commits any crime is treated as an adult. A 13, 14, 15 or 16 year old who commits a felony can also be treated as an adult. But, the judge can give a 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 year old youthful offender status at Sentencing. Being a youthful offender gives the teen a chance to have no record of the crime. Learn more about Youthful Offenders.


Adolescent Offenders

A 16 year old who commits a felony after September 30, 2018 is an adolescent offender. This means that the case is heard in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court. Cases may be transferred to the Family Court. In Family Court, the child will be treated as a juvenile delinquent. Learn more about Adolescent Offenders.


Raise the Age

Legislation called “Raise the Age” changed the age that a child can be treated as an adult for crimes committed in New York State. This legislation created Youth Parts and the adolescent offender category. Learn more about Raise the Age. See the Raise the Age Flowchart.

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