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 of age in criminal cases in New York State. Prior to RTA, New York was one of two remaining states to hold 16 year-olds criminally responsible. RTA changed the age of criminal responsibility to:

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

Scientific research has shown that prosecuting and placing children in the adult criminal justice system does not work. Learn more at Raise the Age New York.

Effective 10/1/2019:

  • 16 and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors under the penal law are considered Juvenile Delinquents and their cases are decided in the Family Court.
  • 16 and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors under the Vehicle and Traffic Law are considered adults and their cases are decided in the local criminal court.
  • 16 and 17-year-olds charged with felonies are considered Adolescent Offenders (AO) and their cases start out in the Youth Part of the Supreme or County Court. AOs whose cases are removed from the Youth Part in Supreme or County Court to Family Court, will then be considered Juvenile Delinquents. If the AO 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 may 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.

The RTA legislation also contains a sealing section that makes it possible for some people who have been crime-free for 10 years to apply to seal up to two of their criminal convictions. Sex offenses, violent felonies, and other serious felonies are not eligible to be sealed. See Sealing.


Youth Part

RTA created a new classification for 16 and 17-year-olds charged with felonies, called Adolescent Offender (AO). RTA also created Youth Parts in the Supreme and County Courts in each county for the AO cases and Juvenile Offender (JO) cases. Youth Part Judges are Family Court Judges. When a case is transferred from the Youth Part to the Family Court the child is then considered a Juvenile Delinquent.


Notifications to Parents

Raise the Age requires the police to notify parents and legal guardians when a juvenile offender or adolescent offender is arrested. Any questioning of the child must be in an appropriate location and limited to a reasonable amount of time. Parents who are present at questioning must be given notice of rights as well.


Separated from Adults Charged with Crimes

Adolescent Offenders and Juvenile Offenders cannot be held with adults at the police station, the courthouse, or in a detention or placement facility.

Adolescent Offenders who are detained during the criminal case go to a specialized secure juvenile detention facility for older youth. Juvenile offenders who are detained will go to a juvenile detention facility for the reception of children. AOs and JOs are separated from adults who are charged with crimes.

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