“CPL §720.10 Youthful offender procedure; definition of terms.  As  used  in  this  article,  the  following  terms have the following meanings:  

1. Youth" means a person charged with a crime alleged  to  have  been committed  when he was at least sixteen years old and less than nineteen years old or a person charged with being a juvenile offender as  defined in subdivision forty-two of section 1.20 of this chapter.”

Therefore, a youthful offender is defined in the NYS Criminal Procedure Code (CPL) as an individual between the ages of 16 and 19 years of age (i.e., 16,17,18, but not yet 19) at the time they purportedly commit the crime.  It is intended to give the young or youthful offender an opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction by the charge being converted to a non-criminal determination known as “youthful offender” or “YO.”  That way, if convicted by plea or after trial, their record will not show a crime, but a YO designation.

The youthful offender process begins when a youth who falls within the pertinent youthful age category comes before a judge for arraignment.  The arraigning court, usually one of New York’s local criminal courts, makes a preliminary finding that the defendant may be an “apparently eligible youth.”  Once this initial determination is made, all proceedings, including the arraignment, are closed to the public and no releases of the arrest or court proceedings may be disclosed to the public, including the press.  The private proceedings are typically held in one of the back rooms of the court, not the courtroom.

The final youthful offender determination is not made until after there has been a conviction of a crime, either by plea of guilty (usually to a lesser offense) or trial.  Upon a judicial determination that a youthful offender finding is correct (age and not used up previously) based on the law and the particular circumstances of the accused, all records of the arrest and proceedings are sealed and no longer subject to public scrutiny or inspection (except law enforcement and some municipal careers), effectively shielding from view the criminal conviction designation.  Effectively, the defendant's “criminal” record of the particular incident ceases to exist. Thus, the youthful offender will be able to say that they have never been convicted of a crime based upon that offense.  For example, a defendant convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) would have that ordinary criminal conviction converted to a youthful offender determination.  Nevertheless, the DWI consequences are still imposed upon the YO defendant with even longer suspension/revocation periods for underage offenders (in the context of New York DWI laws, an “underage offender” is a person under 21 years old.)

For misdemeanor offenses, such as first-time DWIs, a defendant with no prior criminal convictions and no prior status determination as a youthful offender, CPL §720.20(d) “the court must direct that the conviction be deemed vacated and replaced by a youthful offender finding; and the court must sentence the defendant pursuant to section §60.02 of the penal law."  §60.02(1) of the Penal Law limits the maximum sentence which may be imposed upon an individual adjudicated a YO who otherwise would have been convicted of a misdemeanor to a "definite or intermittent sentence of imprisonment with a term of no more than six months . . .”

The Court also orders the records to be sealed to public review. Please note that public school officials will be notified of the adjudication. This notice is kept apart from all other school records and documents. Most significantly among this one-time benefit, YO status  means that there is no conviction of a crime nor any other criminal offense.

Thus, the YO result is one of the proverbial brass rings a parent may seek for their child.  It takes an experienced youthful offender attorney to help the entire family navigate through this confusing process.  The accused gets just enough of the angst provoking experience to hopefully learn a lesson without marring their future with a single youthful indiscretion.  Attorney Rex Pietrobono handles such cases with great care to keep the futures of all children free of hindrances and still bright!

​The Law Office of Rex Pietrobono represents extraordinary young people charged with crimes throughout Westchester County and surrounding areas including Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Rockland.  To learn more information about how we can help you or your loved one, please contact our office at (914) 666-8137 to speak directly with Mr. Pietrobono at no charge.

Being the parent of a child who is even briefly in trouble with the law in New York or anywhere else for that matter, isn’t easy.  Nervous questions in abundance need answers quickly from an experienced Youthful Offender lawyer – commonly among them:

•What punishment is my son or daughter facing?

•How does this legal process work?

•Is my son or daughter going to have a permanent criminal record?​

"Rex did a fantastic job of getting my daughter's charges reduced. He was compassionate for my daughter's plight; was very accessible when either my daughter or I needed him; was professional in dealing with the courts; and was fair in his assessments of the options we faced in this legal process.Rex did a fantastic job of getting my daughter's charges reduced. He was compassionate for my daughter's plight; was very accessible when either my daughter or I needed him; was professional in dealing with the courts; and was fair in his assessments of the options we faced in this legal process." D.L.  To see more testimonials click here.

 DWI, Drugs & Alcohol Defense Attorney