Getting Juvenile Cases Transferred to Queens Criminal Court

Getting Juvenile Cases Transferred to Queens Criminal Court

In New York State, juveniles between the ages of 7-18 who commit crimes may have their cases heard in criminal court rather than family court, depending on the charges and other factors. This article provides an overview of the juvenile justice system in New York and the process for getting juvenile cases transferred to criminal court, specifically in Queens.

Juvenile Justice System Basics

In New York, juveniles are classified into three categories:

  • Juvenile Delinquents: Children aged 7-12 who commit crimes. Their cases are handled in family court.
  • Juvenile Offenders: Teens aged 13-15 charged with serious felonies like murder, rape, etc. Their cases start in youth court.
  • Adolescent Offenders: Teens aged 16-17 charged with any crime. Their cases also start in youth court.

The “Raise the Age” law passed in 2017 changed the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18. So 16-17 year olds now have their cases originate in youth court instead of automatically being tried as adults.

Getting Juvenile Cases Transferred from Youth Court

When a juvenile is arrested in New York City, their case will start in the Youth Part of criminal court if they are 13 or older. Here is what happens next:

  • Non-Violent Felonies: If the teen is charged with a non-violent felony, the case is automatically transferred to family court after arraignment. There, the juvenile becomes a “Juvenile Delinquent” and avoids a permanent criminal record.
  • Violent Felonies: Violent felony charges aren’t automatically transferred. However, the judge has discretion to move these cases to family court under “extraordinary circumstances.” Factors like criminal history, severity of offense, and mitigating factors are considered.
  • Youthful Offender Status: For certain crimes, teens aged 16-19 can have their case designated as “Youthful Offender” (YO). This keeps the criminal record sealed to avoid lifelong impact. The judge decides if YO status is appropriate based on the charges and other details of the case.

So in summary, non-violent felony cases are automatically sent to family court for juveniles after arraignment. But violent charges usually stay in youth court unless the judge orders a transfer.

Getting Cases Transferred in Queens

The process for transferring eligible cases from youth court to family court is similar across all five boroughs of New York City. However, each county in the city has its own family court system.For example, if a juvenile case originates in the Youth Part of Queens Criminal Court, here is the path it would follow to get transferred:

  1. Arraignment occurs in front of a Queens Youth Court judge
  2. Non-violent felonies get moved automatically to Queens Family Court
  3. For violent felonies, a request is made at arraignment to transfer the case
  4. The Queens Youth Court judge decides if extraordinary circumstances exist to warrant transfer
  5. If approved, the case gets sent to Queens Family Court for adjudication

So while the transfer process itself is uniform across counties, each borough handles juvenile delinquency cases through its own family court once transferred. The key is getting Queens Criminal Court approval first.

Working with a Lawyer

Trying to get juvenile cases moved to family court can be complex, especially when violent felonies are involved. Working with an experienced Queens juvenile crimes lawyer improves the chances of success.Here are some of the ways a lawyer can help:

  • Navigating the courts – A lawyer familiar with Queens Criminal Court and Family Court knows all the prosecutors, judges, and staff involved. This inside expertise helps them guide cases effectively at both court levels.
  • Gathering evidence – Collecting mitigating evidence like medical/school records, witness statements, etc. is crucial to show extraordinary circumstances warranting transfer.
  • Developing a strong argument – Lawyers determine the best legal arguments to convince the Queens Youth Court judge that family court is appropriate. This involves strategically highlighting positive factors about the juvenile defendant.
  • Negotiating with prosecutors – Even if the charges seem to require youth court adjudication, a lawyer can potentially negotiate with the district attorney’s office to get certain cases moved. This involves highlighting weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

Having an advocate familiar with both court systems is invaluable for juveniles arrested in Queens facing serious charges like violent felonies. Public defenders provide free representation for those who cannot afford a private lawyer.


The Raise the Age law in New York gave judges more discretion to transfer eligible juvenile cases to family court to avoid criminal records. The process involves filing transfer requests at arraignment in youth court, then providing evidence of extraordinary circumstances. While non-violent juvenile felonies move automatically, violent charges usually require demonstrated mitigation before the youth court judge will approve transfer to family court.Navigating these complex legal waters is much easier with guidance from an experienced Queens juvenile defense lawyer. They offer the best chance at getting criminal cases against juveniles moved to family court adjudication. This avoids the devastating impacts of lifelong criminal records.