Raising the Lower Age of Juvenile Delinquency - A Differential Response for Children 7 Through 11 Years of Age

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Overview

As part of promoting the well-being of children, families and communities, New York State passed legislation that raises the lower age of juvenile delinquency to 12 years old in almost all cases, as of December 29, 2022 (Chapter 810 of the Laws of 2021, as amended by Chapter 38 of the Laws of 2022). The new law requires each local department of social services (LDSS) to develop a differential response for children younger than 12 who do not fall under the definition of juvenile delinquent (JD) under section 301.2 of the Family Court Act (FCA) as of December 29, 2022, and whose behavior would otherwise bring them under the jurisdiction of Article 3 of the FCA.

This legislation provides a critical opportunity for New York State to shift from criminalizing certain behaviors to providing young people with support services and assistance from differential response programs. The purpose of the differential response is to prevent the youngest children, who exhibit and engage in problematic behavior, from involvement with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Differential response services are voluntary, community-based, and aim to meet the needs of eligible children and their families by providing opportunities and supports that promote racial, ethnic, and gender equity, and overall well-being.

Data

Before December 29, 2022, the eligible population for the differential response could have been charged as a JD in family court for these offenses. Probation departments were responsible for screening these cases to determine if they could be diverted from family court as part of a process called probation intake.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) provided the following data regarding 2019-2021 JD probation intake cases opened for children aged 7 through 11 for New York State (NYS), New York City (NYC) and rest of state (ROS).

To obtain additional data related to JD probation intake cases opened, please visit the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) website.

LDSS Required Response and Supports

The differential response (DR) for children excluded from the JD law under the Raise the Lower Age (RTLA) statute is a voluntary, alternative process to help eligible children and their families connect with any needed supports in the community. These supports may include, but are not limited to

The differential response includes

The RTLA DR for children is not PINS Diversion Services nor the alternative child protective services response, which is Family Assessment Response.

LDSS Differential Response Contacts