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Youthful Offender (Y.O.) in New York State

Criminal Court Procedure

This guide is published by the criminal defense attorneys at Storobin & Spodek LLP in order to help viewers learn about cases in New York criminal courts. It is not intended to be legal advice, merely a way to help you understand your needs as your case moves along in New York Criminal courts. All the information, including the law, procedure and penal code is believed to be accurate, but can't be guaranteed due to possible changes and errors. The guide is for information and entertainment purposes only with the express expectation and agreement by the readers that it will not be acted upon in any way. No attorney-client relationship exists or can exist based on the offering of the information in this guide. We strongly suggest you retain the services of a competent criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights.

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Article 720 of the Criminal Procedure Law governs the Youthful Offender Procedure:

Purpose of the Statute:

The Youthful Offender (“Y.O.”) Statute was enacted to give defendants between 16 and 18 years of age a chance not to live with the stigma of a criminal record because their transgressions were not those of hardened criminals, but instead are youthful mistakes.

Whose Eligible:

Youths aged 13 through 18 years old charged with crimes.  Age is determined at the time of the offense.

Mandatory Y.O. vs. Discretionary Y.O.:

A candidate for Y. O. is automatically given Y. O. status if he is under 19 years of age and has no prior felony conviction or Y. O. adjudications. The statute uses the term “eligible youth”  to describe individuals who are actually mandatory YO.  One is not an eligible youth, and will not receive mandatory YO, if he/she is charged with one of the following:

  • Class A Felony
  • Certain Armed Felonies
  • Certain Sex Crimes

However in certain armed felony offenses and sex crimes, the Judge has the power to grant Y. O. status. To do so, the Judge must find one of the following reasons and state the details on the record:

  • mitigating circumstances that bear on the matter upon which the crime was committed
  • defendants role was minor and he was not the sole participate

As per the Statute, the Judge should grant this discretionary status if the interest of Justice would be served by relieving the defendant from the onus of a criminal record and an adult criminal sentence.


Upon the Conviction (plead Guilty or found Guilty after trial) the Judge must order a pre-sentence investigation done by the Department of Probation


If the Judge gives Y. O. status, then the criminal conviction is set aside and a youthful adjudication is given.

The Court gives mandatory Y. O. status to those who are eligible and decides at this point whether discretionary youth will be given Y. O. status. The possible sentences for a defendant adjudicated a Y. O. is less than  what an adult convicted of the same crime would get.

If a felony conviction is replaced with a youthful offender adjudication, the maxium prison sentence that may be imposed is that of a Class E Felony which would be  1 & 1/3 to 4 years of imprisonment.

If a Class A misdemeanor conviction is replaced with a youthful offender adjudication, the maximum prison sentence is six months.

If a Class B misdemeanor conviction is replaced with a youthful offender adjudication, the maximum prison sentence is three months.


Once Y. O. status is granted, the Court records are classified as confidential.  However,  an official at the defendants school will be notified.

Fines and Surcharges:

Convictions replaced with youthful adjudications are subject to the  mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees applicable to criminal convictions.  However, YOs are not required to pay a DNA Databank Fee, a Supplemental Sex Offender Victim Fee or a Sex offender Fee.

Overall benefits of Y. O. Status:

  • No criminal record. If your ever asked have you been convicted of a crime, the truthful answer would be no.
  • Lesser sentences available
  • The adjudication is limited to the People in any subsequent criminal proceedings.
  • No DNA sample or accompanying DNA data bank fee
  • No Sex Offender fee or supplemental sex offender victim fee.

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