NYCourts.govNew York State Unified Court System

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 three categories: juvenile delinquent, juvenile offender and youthful 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. 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 felony or other violent act may be treated as a juvenile offender. The case is heard in the Supreme or County Court like adult cases, 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. They are placed with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services until their 16th birthday, then can be transferred to prison. Juvenile Offender’s criminal records are not sealed, unless the case is sent to Family Court.


Youthful Offenders

A 16, 17, or 18 year old who commits a crime is treated as an adult. But, at the Sentencing, the Judge can give the child youthful offender (YO) status. Being a youthful offender gives a teen a chance to have no record of the crime. Learn more about Youthful Offenders.

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