NEW YORK FAMILY COURT SYSTEM
In Erie County most times a person under the age of 16 years old commits a crime, he or she can only be prosecuted as juvenile. This means that their case is not sent to a regular adult court such as the Town of West Seneca Justice Court but instead goes to Erie County Family Court.
Erie County Family Court is part of the New York State Family Court System. According to the New York State Criminal Procedure Law all Family Courts are Superior Courts. This makes their rulings binding throughout the State of New York. This feature also means that no matter where in New York State a juvenile commits a crime he or she will be handled the same way. The process is different from how a case is handled when a person is charged for a crime as an adult.
A juvenile that is being sent to Erie County Family Court has all the facts in his case presented to the Erie County Probation Department. At the Probation Department a New York State Probation Officer will review the case with the victim and the suspect and then decide if the case is serious enough to be sent to the Erie County Attorney's Office. This is much like the plea bargaining sessions that are handled in adult courts. All felony level and most misdemeanor cases at the juvenile level are sent to the County Attorney for petition to Erie County Family Court.
At the County Attorney's Office the case is reviewed by a Prosecuting Attorney and if the facts are all in place a petition is filed with Erie County Family Court. The juvenile suspect is then appointed a Law Guardian who makes sure that his or her rights are not violated in this process. Once the case goes before an Erie County Family Court Judge, a hearing is held and possibly a trial is run. If the juvenile is found guilty he or she is adjudicated as a Juvenile Delinquent. At this point the juvenile suspect is sentenced by the Erie County Family Court Judge and he or she must follow the guidelines of the sentence. Once the sentence has been completed, the juvenile is done with the court and his or her case is sealed. These sealed records are not public documents and not even the suspects themselves can acquire a copy of the record.
Many times people have trouble with their children that need to be addressed but the family is at a loss as to where to turn. One avenue that they can use is the PINS Diversion Program through Erie County Family Court. For more information on this program utilize the links below.Erie County Family Court PINS Diversion