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Raise the Age (RTA)

New York’s Raise the Age (RTA) Legislation changed the age that a child can be prosecuted as an adult to 18 years old in criminal cases in New York State. Prior to RTA, New York was one of two remaining states to treat all 16 and 17 years old as adults. RTA changed the age of criminal responsibility to:

  • 17, as of October 1, 2018
  • 18, as of October 1, 2019

The law was passed after research showed that prosecuting and placing children in the adult criminal justice system doesn’t work. Learn more at Raise the Age New York.

16 and 17 year olds who commit misdemeanors after RTA’s effective dates are treated as juvenile delinquents and the cases are decided in the Family Court. Except, misdemeanors under the Vehicle and Traffic Law go to the local criminal court, not Family Court, unless the child is also charged with a felony. Felony cases start out in the special Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court. If the child is charged with a felony under the Penal Law or the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and also charged with a misdemeanor under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, all the charges go to the Youth Part together. The felonies may be sent to Family Court, but the misdemeanor under the Vehicle and Traffic Law will either stay in the Youth Part, or be sent to the local criminal court. See Raise the Age Flowchart. See Raise the Age Flowchart.

RTA legislation also made it possible for some people who have been crime-free for 10 years to apply for the Sealing of their criminal convictions. Sex offenses, violent felonies, and other serious felonies are not eligible to be sealed.


Youth Part

RTA created a new classification for 16 and 17 year olds charged with felonies, called Adolescent Offenders (AO). RTA also created Youth Parts in the Supreme and County Courts in each county for the AO cases and Juvenile Offender (JO) cases. These cases are heard by Family Court Judges. When a case is transferred to the Family Court the child is not treated as an adult.

 

Notifications to Parents

Raise the Age requires police to notify parents and legal guardians when a juvenile offender or adolescent offender is arrested. Any questioning of the child must be limited to a reasonable amount of time. Parents must be given notice of rights before the child may be questioned.

 

Separated from Adults Charged with Crimes

AOs and JOs may not be mixed with adults at the police station, the courthouse, or in a detention or placement facility.

If the child needs to be placed in detention during the criminal case, adolescent offenders go to a special place for older children. They are separated from adults who are charged with crimes. Juvenile offenders go to a detention place for children. They are not with older children or with adults.

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