The New York City Law Department's Family Court Division investigates, and prosecutes where appropriate, matters involving youth between the ages of 7 and 17 who have been arrested for juvenile delinquency and referred to the Law Department for prosecution. The Raise the Age Legislation, became fully implemented on October 1, 2019. It changed the law where 16 and 17 year-old youth were automatically treated as adults. Most 16 and 17 year-old youth are now subject to the jurisdiction of a newly created Youth Part and the Family Court. Youth 16 and 17 years of age arrested for misdemeanor offenses will automatically be treated as juveniles and the matters will be handled by the Family Court. Youth arrested for felony offenses may also be treated as juveniles but are subject to initial processing in the Youth Part as Adolescent Offenders. Transfer or removal to the Family Court from the Youth Part will depend on the severity of the felony charges and other factors considered by the court.
The Family Court system is meant to be rehabilitative, not punitive. The Family Court process seeks to ensure that youth who commit offenses that would be considered crimes if they were adults are held accountable for their actions and receive services that will contribute to their rehabilitation.
The Law Department handles a wide variety of cases ranging from shoplifting and graffiti to more serious offenses such as assault, robbery, sexual assault, and homicide. In 2018 approximately 2,800 matters were referred to the Law Department for prosecution. Most of the remaining cases, where a was youth arrested were addressed through the adjustment process by the New York City Department of Probation, which resolves certain cases without formal prosecution, provided that the victim consents.
The Law Department determines whether to formally file charges against a youth. Approximately 1100 juvenile delinquency cases were filed in New York City Family Court in 2018.
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