Saturday, March 16, 2013

Buffalo Area Under 21 DWI Attorney

In New York State , anyone  at least sixteen years old but less than nineteen years old who are charged with a crime (misdemeanor or felony) may be eligible for a "youthful offender adjudication." Section 720.20 of the CPL sets forth the circumstances under which a court may make a finding that a individual is a youthful offender. For  misdemeanor convictions, like first time DWI offenders, CPL § 720.20 states:

Upon conviction of an eligible youth, the court must order a PSI (pre-sentence investigation) of the defendant. After receipt of a written report of the investigation (by the probation department) and at the time of pronouncing sentence the court must determine whether or not the eligible youth is a 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.

CPL § 720.20(d) states 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."

Section 60.02(1) of the Penal Law sets the maximum sentence that may be imposed upon a defendant 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...."

The requirement that eligible youth with no prior criminal convictions or youthful offender adjudications must receive youthful offender status when convicted of a misdemeanor raises an interesting question  when someone in that age group  are arrested for misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated.

It is important to know  that youthful offender status only applies to criminal convictions, not to traffic infractions or violations. As a result, it may be better in some cases to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge and receive youthful offender status rather than entering a plea to the lesser charge of Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (VTL § 1192[1]). A person under 19 years of age should discuss this with his lawyer. There are advantages and disadvantages of getting youthful offender status versus pleading guilty to DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol). 

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