January 18, 2022

When Should Kids Be Treated As Criminals? | Cup of Joe

Kid Criminals: Family Court or Criminal Court?

Written by Joseph D. Nohavicka

We…Are…Live!  Second case study for 2022 -- kids.

This is a real quote.

“Kids are stupid, and the more I drink, the stupider they get.”


In New York, because their brains are not fully developed yet, 16 and 17-year-olds arrested for most crimes are treated differently than adults.


For example, they cannot be held in adult jails. Teens held waiting for their trial or sentenced to confinement for less than one year are confined in specialized juvenile facilities.

Here is a sweet deal: teens (16-17) even charged with violent felonies can be transferred to Family Court. And that is how to avoid a juvenile facility. Instead, they usually receive treatment or counseling – but no confinement. 

These teens get to go to Family Court as long as two things exist:

  1. The charges do not include the teen displaying a deadly weapon or causing significant physical injury or involving a sex crime;
  2. The prosecutor DOES NOT file a motion within 30 days showing why the case should NOT go to Family Court.

And that is the legal background you need to study our case. In this case the charges included a deadly weapon and serious harm; AND, the prosecutor did file a motion.  

Let’s take a peek at how the motion was argued.

The Cast of the Case
  • Jonny Boy: The Adolescent Offender (classmate of Jack Harloe -- Vic 1)
  • Jack Harloe: Victim 1 (son)
  • Gob: Victim 2 (father}
  • Lisa: Victim 3 (mother)
  • 2 unidentified suspects (with Jonny Boy the night of)
  • Judge
  • Clerk
  • Prosecutor
  • Defense Attorney

The Scene of the Case

Nassau County Court Courtroom

The judge is facing you. You can only see the backs of the attorneys and Jonny Boy, the teenage defendant. He is fidgety and keeps looking behind him to see his mom and dad.  The mother will face you when she testifies.

JUDGE: Will the Clerk call the next case?

CLERK: Come to order. Calling case number 1 on the calendar, People v. JB. Counsel, your appearances.  

Appearances (their names and who they represent) provided by the attorneys.

JUDGE:  Good morning all. We are here on the People’s motion to oppose transfer of this case to Family Court. People? 

PROSECUTOR: Thank you, Your Honor.  We believe that extraordinary circumstances exist which warrant retaining Jonny Boy’s case in the Youth Part, in that:

  1. Jonny was the "ringleader" and planned the subject attack in which Jack Harloe was the target
  2. The AO acted in an especially cruel and heinous manner;
  3. No mitigating circumstances are present that could weigh against retaining the case in the Youth Part. 

JUDGE: Could you tell me about what the circumstances were?

PROSECUTOR: Valley Stream, Nassau County.

On the night of May 6, 2021, at about 8:40 PM, Jack Harloe was at a grocery store shopping with his mother and stepfather.

After loading up the family car, Jack was walking the shopping cart back towards the market when a car pulled up in front of him and an unidentified individual asked, "Are you Jack"? 

Jonny Boy then jumped out, ran up to Jack and started punching him.  Jack’s mother and stepfather then attempted to stop the fight…

MOTHER:  …after we got him off my son, I saw Jonny had a boxcutter in his hand and he was pointing it at my son and I screamed. Then Jonny swung the boxcutter at me. He cut me.

PROSECUTOR: And what happened next?

MOTHER:  Another boy came out of the car and he also had a boxcutter and swung it at me – he also caught my left hand. He carved a two-inch laceration. I had to go to the hospital. You can see I have a  "V" shaped scar on my hand, and I’m following up with a hand specialist. 

PROSECUTOR: Did Jonny Boy do anything after that?

MOTHER: He took out a knife and cut my pants – he was trying to stab me on the right upper thigh area. He didn’t get through the pants though. My husband was also slashed on his back with a box cutter by one of the other boys. I saw it.

PROSECUTOR: Did your son know Jonny Boy before the attack?

MOTHER:  Unfortunately, yes. They have attended school together for the past several years and Jonny boy has been bullying the whole time.

JUDGE:  I’d like to hear from the defense.

DEFENSE COUNSEL: Thank you, Your Honor.

On the night of, Jonny and Jack ran into each other in the grocery store parking lot. It was nothing more than a coincidence. They engaged in a brief exchange and a physical scuffle ensued thereafter. Jack Harloe was not even injured.

I would like to mention that Jonny has no prior criminal history, that he has no history of alcohol or substance abuse, and that he is an excellent student. Those are mitigating circumstances.

The People have not shown that extraordinary circumstances exist and so this matter should be transferred to Family Court.

PROSECUTOR: Defense counsel does not mention the mother’s hand injury she sustained in the incident and…

JUDGE: I’ve heard enough. Are there any other mitigating circumstances present in this case? Any evidence that the Jonny's home life contributed to him orchestrating the attack?


The Judge's Ruling

JUDGE: The law requires the Court to deny the People's Extraordinary Circumstances Motion…

Unless the People establish the existence of "extraordinary circumstances" which warrant not sending this case over to Family Court. 

Under the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds, having balanced the factors in this case, including that Jonny Boy is a good student with a clean record, and the fact that the attack caused the mother to sustain a relatively significant injury to her hand, that there are extraordinary circumstances which warrant keeping Jonny Boy's case here and not in Family Court.

So Ordered. We are adjourned.

Justice served?  Let us know. We’ll see you next time.

Click HERE to read the case.

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