When children are charged with crimes in New York, the case generally goes to family court if the child is 15 or younger. Family court judges have a great deal of discretion in overseeing these cases. Children 16 and older are typically handled in criminal court, and convictions can leave a permanent scar on their criminal records--affecting everything from eligibility for scholarships, college admission and job opportunities.
Police in Auburn, New York, said today that they are planning to charge a 14-year-old child with felony fourth-degree arson for allegedly setting a fire Monday that destroyed a building owned by a metal processing company. Police have said that the child's criminal charges will be handled through the juvenile justice system. This likely means he or she will be tried in family court, but this is not completely clear at this time.
On Monday evening, the child was reportedly playing with fire inside of the storage building that housed plastic materials and scrap metal from recycled vehicles. Police say that the fire spread to stored plastic, and when it got out of control the young teenager ran away.
No further information, including the identity of the child has been released. Because the suspect is a juvenile, it is very likely that no more information will be shared about this case.
While children should typically be punished for bad behavior, it is extremely important that a juvenile crime does not create a dark cloud that will hang over a child for years to come. A stained criminal record and overly-harsh penalties can have a very negative effect on a youthful offender.
This is why it is very wise for the parents of juvenile defendants to seek experienced legal counsel from a juvenile crimes attorney. Such a professional can be an advocate for the child in family court, to help ensure the best possible outcome in the case.
Source: Syracuse.com, "Auburn police say juvenile playing with fire was cause of Auburn Metal Processing blaze," Charley Hannagan, June 27, 2012