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Attorney Advertising: Website content for informational and educational purposes only and should not be substituted for speaking with an attorney.  All cases are different, and past results do not guarantee future outcomes. All fees must be finalized in writing and may vary based on the circumstances of a case.

Juvenile Arrest

New York has established a juvenile court system for minors, which has been used as a model for many other states. Unfortunately, this once revolutionary system has grown complex over the years, and it is not easy to explain quickly. In cases with minors, the client will benefit greatly from a lawyer with Family Court experience.

Not all legal minors are treated as juveniles in the court system. A minor over the age of 16 automatically goes into the adult criminal system. A minor over the age of 13 also might be tried as an adult depending on the severity of the offense and the mood of the prosecutor.

Once the government charges a minor in Family Court, all of the terminology changes, although most of the rules of criminal law remain the same. For example, the criminal case is called a “juvenile delinquency proceeding,” and the trial is called the “fact-finding,” and the prosecutor is called the “Presentment Agency,” and the criminal sentence is called the “disposition.”

All of these euphemisms do not soften the blow of the criminal justice system, as juveniles are not shown much mercy. A judge usually will not grant bail before a trial, so an arrest can be as punishing as a conviction with the child or teenager spending months locked up. The juvenile’s entire life gets interrupted, everything from school to family.

The juvenile system does not provide many basic protections, such as a jury trial. Instead, a randomly assigned judge decides guilt or innocence. After a trial, a juvenile may spend five years or more incarcerated, receiving forced psychiatric medication and having little access to the outside world.

Juvenile delinquency cases can continue into adulthood. Some minors get transferred directly from the juvenile system into the adult system. Additionally, judges do not seal all juvenile delinquency records, and the Internet is full of horror stories from clients who did not know to pressure their lawyer to get their child’s juvenile record sealed. An unsealed juvenile record can prevent a minor from attending college and getting employment. In today’s online world, an unsealed record can follow a person forever.

Unfortunately, too many criminal lawyers accept juvenile delinquency cases without knowing about all of the major differences between Criminal Court, Supreme Court, and Family Court. Ideally, a parent should hire a lawyer with Family Court experience because a minor who gets in trouble with the law has a statistically greater chance of reforming and not becoming a lifelong criminal.  An investment in an effective lawyer may be as important as an investment in education.  

At the Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua, a parent can find a lawyer with juvenile justice experience and avoid the maze of public defenders. A child should have the chance to start life without a criminal record and without spending months or years in a “secured facility,” the euphemism in Family Court for prison.

Zero Tolerance

Modern trends, both in police departments and in public schools, have contributed to a rise in the number of juvenile delinquency cases. In the past, parents and schools dealt with many problems that we, as a society, now assign to the court system. Here are some common examples:

• If a child gets into a fistfight at school, she might face Felony Assault charges.

• If a child shoplifts, he might face charges regardless of repayment.

• If a child brings medication to school without the proper paperwork, the school may decide to call the police.

One of these cases actually went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2009 because a male vice principal and a female nurse strip-searched a female student who was falsely accused of possessing Ibuprofen.

Ironically, the criminal justice system can cause a child to view himself as a criminal and to act out against a system that labels him. The best way to reinforce a non-criminal identity is a speedy dismissal and a sealed record.  The Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua will treat a juvenile's case with sensitivity while aggressively pursuing the most effective defense strategy.  

A parent should find a lawyer with Family Court experience and an ability to communicate with young clients about the tough situation of a criminal charge in terms that they will understand without being condescending.  The Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua charges flat fees in all juvenile proceedings.

Contact the Law Office of Adam Bevelacqua at (917) 656 - 7076 or bevelacqualaw@gmail.com and speak to a criminal defense and family lawyer immediately.