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.