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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69877 Find in a Library
Title: New York's New Juvenile Felony Law
Journal: Judges' Journal  Volume:19  Issue:3  Dated:(Summer 1980)  Pages:33,55-56
Author(s): W M Schackman
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 3
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This practicum reviews a New York juvenile felony law which tranfers jurisdiction of 14- and 15-year-olds to the State Supreme Court and sharply increases penalities.
Abstract: The intent of the original 1978 bill and the 1979 amendments was to quell public outcry over the failure of the family court system to deal effectively with violent juvenile offenders. The most important changes pertain to court jurisdiction and punishment. Jurisdiction of 14- and 15-year-olds charged with murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, robbery, or arson has been transferred to the State Supreme Court, the court of general trial jurisdiction. Instead of the relatively mild sentences doled out by the family courts, these young offenders receive more severe penalties; i.e., murder now mandates a minimum of 5 to 9 years with a mandatory maximum of life imprisonment. In addition, serious violent felonies now call for a penalty up to 10 years in prison with a mandated minimum of one-third of the maximum. The former juvenile delinquent determination did not constitute a felony conviction and could not be the requisite for a predicate felony adjudication with subsequent increased mandatory minimum sentences. Youthful offender treatment may be given after conviction for any crime except murder, but mitigating circumstances must be found. Youthful offender status does not carry a criminal conviction, cannot be the requisite for a predictable or persistent felony conviction, and is punishable by a maximum 4-year imprisonment. Such treatment is entirely discretionary with the Court and is used sparingly. The new statute provides for the removal of cases to the family court for sentencing in the interest of justice, in which case a plea to a lesser offense is entered against the defendant in lieu of a criminal conviction. The statute also provides for segregation of juveniles from adult offenders at all stages of proceedings. A followup review of the law in operation revealed an initial tendency in Bronx County to over indict. Now the cases are screened carefully and for the most part only those more seriously violent offenses are prosecuted in the Supreme Court. Of 295 cases to date under the new juvenile offenders law, 185 cases were assigned to family court and 110 resulted in indictments and were assigned to the supreme courts. Only 17 of the 110 indicted juveniles have been given youthful offender treatment. This indicates the severity of the crimes or the prior records of the defendants.
Index Term(s): Family courts; Juvenile court waiver; Juvenile designated felonies; Legislation; New York
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