What Are Your Rights? Raise the Age Law Implemented in New York

Man: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Governor Cuomo recently announced the passage and implementation of the second stage of the Raise the Age Law, a law designed to put New York on pace with other states regarding how it handles the prosecution of 16 and 17-year-olds accused of criminal acts. Now here to help us explain this new law is managing attorney Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, welcome back.

Paul: Thank you.

Interviewer: Thanks for being here.

Paul: Absolutely.

Interviewer: So, how is the prosecution of teenagers traditionally handled here in New York state?

Paul: So, we were down, I think there were two states, we were one of the two states left.

Interviewer: That’s right.

Paul: There were 16 or 17, and it could be a misdemeanor or even really a violation. Here you are in criminal court. You’re in open criminal court, and you’d have a record that would stick with you forever. If you were 13, 14, 15, and you had something very serious, you too would be in the open criminal court where everyone else would be resulting in really thousands of kids of high school age having criminal records.

Interviewer: Now, so how does this law affect or really change the way minors will be treated in the judicial system?

Paul: Yeah, we caught up with the rest of the country as they said. So, now if you’re 16, or 17, or even 13, I guess to 17, and you’re charged with a misdemeanor you’re gonna be in family court, and that’s gonna be something that’s gonna be protected. It’s not gonna be news, and ultimately if you have a more serious charge, you know, again not every charge could be handled in family court. But there’s a family court section of county court, and it at least isolates you from the general criminal justice system which can have its own implications.

Interviewer: Now, you kinda touched a little bit on it, but what exactly what are some problems or really issues that this law is designed to really address?

Paul: Yeah, keeping in mind again, this is not a non-prosecution law. Right? These children are being prosecuted. The question is where are they being prosecuted? So, they found if they’re part of the system, the chance of them maintaining a role in the system throughout their lives increase dramatically. Not to mention, if you have a criminal record at 16 or 17, and now you try to get a job at 28, or 38, or 48 it would stick with you. So it really is a second chance, and it really is giving an opportunity for kids who may have just made a bad decision.

Interviewer: Right.

Paul: You know, to kind of give them a chance as they progress in life, and not be bogged down by what happened as a youth.

Interviewer: Yeah, there are some other details with this law, too. Like if you’re able to keep a clean record for a decade or so.

Paul: Yeah, 10 years it gets absolutely sealed. And so, that is certainly the goal of the program itself.

Interviewer: All right, Paul. Thank you so much.

Paul: You’re welcome.

Interviewer: Appreciate it.