Criminal Defense Attorney defends judicial process for minors

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Since car thefts are among some of these crimes involving minors throughout Greater Rochester on the rise, some authorities have complained there are not enough legal options to hold these alleged offenders accountable.

Since 2018, anyone under the age of 18 in New York cannot be criminally prosecuted for what is deemed non-violent crimes. The state prefers interventions and evidence-based treatment for juvenile offenders.

Despite the recent surge in car thefts, some criminal defense attorneys believe the current system can provide positive outcomes for troubled teens.

Attorney Robert King of Rochester practice represented minors as their criminal defense lawyer in both misdemeanor and felony cases. He argues the current process through court gives teens a second chance to help.

“What are the circumstances before that date, or what’s going on at home and what can we prove to the judge and the prosecutor to show this won’t happen again,” King said.

Despite car thefts on the rise in Rochester this past year, Attorney King doesn’t see that outweighing the positive changes the current judicial system does for minors on trial.

“There’s also been thousands of other kids who have benefited from this law and while you get a bad result in one to two cases, I think it’s more appropriate to look at the entirety of all cases,” King said. “The idea of ​​treating young people differently than adults is good for our youth and also good for our community.”

Under New York law, any minor who participates in a shooting, killing, or other offenses where someone gets hurt can still be criminally prosecuted by the District Attorney. Otherwise, the teen offenders go to family court where Attorney King believes they have better chances of turning their lives around.

“They have learned their lessons, they’ve gone back to high school, and they graduated to go to college and do great things,” King said. “But if they had a criminal record could they have got into college and get a job after going to college? Protecting a young person’s criminal record is really important for them for the rest of their life.”

News 8 did reach out to Monroe County to speak with the Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office to discuss how minors were arranged in court, but they declined an interview.

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