Often people in Ithaca City Court are confused by the jargon being spewed around the Courtroom. The defense attorneys, prosecutors, and estimate love to use an assortment of acronyms and numbers. These abbreviations are not without deeper meaning. They often allow the time of action to occur more smoothly and quickly. Sometimes the Court has over a 100 situations on the docket between the hours of 9:30am and 12:30pm. Shortcuts prove helpful to successfully go by each and every case. When a Court discusses a Y.O. heads turn but many do not know what this term method.
Y.O. method “Youthful Offender (YO) position”: The court (the estimate) may find that a young person who is alleged to have committed a crime should be classified as a Youthful Offender. The Court decides this based upon whether the estimate feels that justice would be better served by not burdening and branding a young person with a lifetime criminal record.
In order to qualify for this position the following FOUR things must be present:
1. The crime was committed when the defendant was at the minimum 16 and less than 19 years of age;
2. This is the kind of criminal conviction that may be replaced with a non-criminal (youthful offender) adjudication due to the character of the crime.
observe: Murder and rape (crimes of a sexual or heinous character) do not qualify.
3.The youth’s prior record (no prior YO adjudications);
4. In the estimate’s discretion that this adjudication would be in the best interests of justice.
Btw, The terms juvenile offender and youthful offender are NOT the same.
“Juvenile Offender” (J.O.) method a youth 13, 14 or 15 years of age who committed an offense stated in Penal Law 30.00(2). While “Youthful Offender” (Y.O.) method a juvenile offender OR a youth who is at the minimum 16 and less than 19 when the crime was committed, whose conviction was set aside by a estimate and replaced with non-criminal adjudication. consequently, a 16 year is not a juvenile offender by the definition but may be eligible for youthful offender position
YOs are covered under Section 720.20 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law which sets forth the circumstances under which a court may make a finding that a person is classified as a youthful offender. For misdemeanor convictions, such as first time DWIs, CPL § 720.20 states:
Upon conviction of an eligible youth, the court must order a P.S.I. (pre-sentence Investigation) of the defendant. After receipt of a written report of the investigation(interview) and at the time of pronouncing sentence the court must determine whether or not the eligible youth is a Y.O., youthful offender. Such determination shall be in accordance with the following criteria: Where the conviction is had in a local criminal court and the eligible youth had not prior to commencement of trial or entry of a plea of guilty been convicted of a crime or found a youthful offender, the court MUST find he is a youthful offender.
So in summary, no prior criminal convictions and no prior position as a Y.O.
CPL § 720.20(d) provides that when an individual is found to be a youthful offender, ” 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.”
It also method that the Court orders the records to be sealed to the public.
observe: Public school officials will be notified (only the notice of adjudication). This notice is kept except all other school records and documents. Y.O. position also method that there is NO conviction of a crime or any other offense.
Section 60.02(1) of the Penal Law limits the maximum sentence that may be imposed upon an individual adjudicated a youthful offender 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…”
A YO charged with a New York DWI misdemeanor has uncommon benefits. Say a person is classified as a YO for a DWI, it is better for him or her to plead guilty to the criminal misdemeanor VTL 1192 (2) (DWI per se) or VTL 1192 (3) (DWI shared law) than to have a reduction to the lesser non criminal (traffic violation) DWAI VTL 1192 (1).
This is against our shared sense but the YO criminal conviction is vacated as if it never occurred. A violation (DWAI) would NOT be vacated. The value of pleading guilty to the crime of DWI versus the violation of DWAI is as follows:
1. The loss of license will be the same, under 21 years of age, one year revocation.
2. The government (the prosecutor) cannot use the Y.O. DWI against you for future enhancements of DWI. No use of the Y.O. DWI as a predicate offense. The DWAI could be used in the future to enhance a future DWI or DWAI.
3. Sentencing guidelines for the DWI will be restricted by the YO position.
4. No record of the crime that would be obtainable to the public.
The only negative in my opinion for a YO DWI is the increased fines and NYS surcharge for a DWI than for a DWAI. The DWI range is $500 to $1000 while the DWAI fine range is $300 to $500. The DWI surcharge is $400 and the DWAI surcharge is $240.