The minor respondent Kenroy, 14 years old was arrested and charged with various adult crimes. Pursuant to a petition filed on 11/16, he admitted the offense of reckless endangerment in the second degree, which is classified as a misdemeanor. The court ordered an investigative report be done, which is called an I&R. This report recommended an adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal for 6 months with a referral to prosocial programs. The report concluded that the respondent was at a low risk for recidivism. The victim requested restitution.
The presentment agency’s position is that the least restrictive course of action should be taken on the condition that the respondent pays restitution for medical costs. The attorney for the minor argued that the family could not afford restitution.
The purpose of the delinquency hearing is to ensure that the offense isn’t handled like a crime. These hearings are designed not to punish the defendant and address the causes of a delinquency through treatment. A standard of the juvenile justice system is not to treat the juvenile like an adult criminal. A family court adjudication is a civil proceeding to “supervise and guide troubled youth” (Matter of Quinton A. 49 NY2d 328, , Green v. Montgomery 95 NY2d 693, 697-98.
In most cases, the choice is not to brand a juvenile as not a criminal, and the court realizes that a youth is not responsible for their conduct.
The difference between a juvenile delinquency and adult prosecutions are stated in Family Court Act 3521. The court must conduct fact-finding, and then decide what type of remedies are appropriate under the circumstances.
The court said that just because a child commits a delinquent act doesn’t necessarily mean that the court must intervene. It needs to be determined if further action is deemed appropriate.
In this instance, the I&R report states that no more treatment appears to be necessary according to the guidelines set out in Family Court Act 3521.1 (2).
According to the facts, this was Kenroy’s first offense. The incident actually happened 8 months ago, and since then he has not been in any trouble.
He has been keeping up a perfect school attendance record and is doing well in all of his classes. He has goals for the future and up until this point hasn’t had any behavioral problems.
The fact finding here is for reckless endangerment was due to an incident with fireworks. It is being viewed by the court as a youthful error of judgment, and not uncommon for his age. He was playing with a roman candle that was handed to him by a friend. When the police pulled up suddenly, he dropped the firework and ran. The sparks ricocheted off the building and hit the victim. The respondent didn’t even know at the time that anyone had been injured. The victim is asking for $2,000 in restitution.
The court suggested that perhaps some type of restorative justice remedy could be used, but the victim declined. The victim stated that is was a typical summer evening. She had sat down on the street curb to look for something in her bag ad notice a group of teenagers playing with the firework. When the police pulled up suddenly they dropped the firework and ran. The sparks flew and bounced off the side of a building.
The court said that they suggested they engage in a restorative justice conference, which the victim is unwilling to do. She requests $2,000 in restitution, although compensation is not the primary focus of the juvenile justice system. The victim is free to seek compensation through a civil hearing. The court said that Kenroy’s family makes very little money, only $19,000 per year. The court finds that to order restitution would only cause the family further hardship.
The victim requests that the respondent acknowledges the distress that the respondent caused her. The court feels that in essence, the respondent has already suffered enough. The emotional and physical stress of this incident was significant on the respondent. This case took 8 months to resolve and caused significant stress. There is no need in the court’s opinion for any further action.
It was held that there was insufficient evidence to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the respond requires any further supervision, confinement or treatment. This petition was dismissed.
If you have a family court matter, please contact Stephen Bilkis and Associates for guidance. They have offices in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County. Call them today for a free consultation called 1-800-NYNYLAW.