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Rockland County Juvenile Crime Lawyer

The Juvenile Justice System in New York

A juvenile delinquent is an individual between the ages of eight and fifteen years old who commits a "delinquent act" that would be considered a crime if he or she were an adult and needs supervision, treatment or placement; these cases are heard in Family Court. If a child between the ages of thirteen and fifteen years old commits a particularly serious or violent act, they may be treated as adults and, if found guilty, may be considered "juvenile offenders". Cases involving a juvenile offender may be heard in the Family Court or the Supreme Court, and it is in the child's best interests to obtain the counsel of an experienced Rockland County criminal defense attorney.

Hearings in Family Court Cases

A fact-finding hearing, which serves as the trial in a juvenile delinquency case, is the same as a criminal trial without a jury. The prosecuting attorney, called the presentment agency, prepares a petition containing a description of the acts the child, or "respondent" is accused of committing. The presentment agency then uses evidence, such as witnesses, to prove its case. The respondent's attorney may present evidence for the respondent and cross-examine the presentment agency's witnesses. If the case is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge will dismiss the petition. If the case is proven, the judge makes a "finding" that the child committed at least one of the acts outlined in the presentment agency's petition. It is important to note that in Family Court there is no bail set in juvenile delinquency cases.

After a finding is made, the Probation Department will investigate the child's home and school behavior. The judge may also require mental health services to evaluate the child. In addition to evaluation, the judge will schedule a "dispositional hearing" and either require the child to stay in a detention facility or release the child to his or her parents or guardian until the date of the hearing.

The Dispositional Hearing

The court may order changes in a child's living situation and for the respondent to pay the victim's property damages or unreimbursed medical expenses from the incident. A probation officer may recommend the following in a dispositional hearing:

  • A conditional discharge - the child is permitted to live at home with court-ordered conditions and no supervision from the court
  • An order of probation – the child lives at home with supervision by the Probation Department
  • The respondent must live at a facility such as a group home

The judge decides which recommendation would best serve the respondent and creates a dispositional order after hearing the probation officer's testimony about the child's school and home behavior and any of his or her previous court cases. The petition may be dismissed if the judge finds the respondent does not need supervision, treatment or confinement or if the case is on hold for over six months.

Fight for Your Child's Future

Your child will be required to have an attorney representing him or her, and it is important to have the defense of a legal counsel who is dedicated to protecting your child's rights and advocating for their future. Although they may seem very different, the elements in a criminal trial and a Family Court case are very similar. I understand that this is a difficult time for you, your child and your family, and I am prepared to walk you through every step of your case.

During my time as a prosecutor and Senior Assistant District Attorney for the Rockland County District Attorney's Office, I have handled numerous defense cases and trained numerous prosecutors. This experience enables me to prepare a detailed defense to challenge the presentment agency's case during the fact-finding hearing. If your child has been accused of committing a delinquent act, complete a free case evaluation or contact a Rockland County juvenile attorney to learn more about his or her legal options today!

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