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'Raise the Age' bill could help juveniles in New York avoid jail

When a New York juvenile is accused of a crime, it can be an emotional and nerve-wrecking situation for the accused offender and their family members. Depending on the details of the crime and the criminal history of the juvenile, they could potentially face harsh penalties. But many are concerned that serious penalties for youth offenders could negatively impact their adulthood.

Currently New York is only one of two states in the United States that have harsher penalties for 16 and 17-year-olds non-violent crimes or misdemeanors, but that might change. The Governor of New York seeks to change the current law by implementing a "Raise the Age" bill.

Supporters for this bill claim that this could help juvenile offenders have a teachable moment, allowing for the appropriate professionals to step in and help them. It would give them a second chance to straighten up and help them avoid going to jail in the future. While it is not a system that would give a juvenile a free pass, it would help offenders under the age of 18 avoid being treated as an adult and going to jail for non-violent crimes.

While there is no intent to have violent felonies to be treated with less severity than they currently are, it focuses on keeping teens out of jail and to end their criminal behavior cycle by providing necessary counseling, rehabilitation and monitoring.

Although this bill has not passed yet, juveniles accused of non-violent crimes should understand that they have defense options that could help them avoid serious consequences such as jail or prison time. Defendants should learn more about their defense options and strategies that could help them reduce or dismiss the charges against them, allowing them to reduce or avoid criminal penalties.

Source: Whec.com, "Should New York 'raise the age' for non-violent crimes?," Amanda Ciavarri, January 21, 2015

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