Can Penal Law Be Used Against a Juvenile Delinquent ?

In Matter of Asia H. (184 Misc 2d 27), Matter of Jennifer G. (182 Misc 2d 278) and Matter of Kimberly A. P. (178 Misc 2d 180), the courts all found no reason not to use Penal Law 215.50 (3) against a person in need of supervision before the age of 16 when a term of an article 7 dispositional order was violated so as to convert the person in need of supervision to a juvenile delinquent to be able to use a secure detention facility. This current effort at "bootstrapping" was specifically rejected in Matter of Freeman (103 Misc 2d 649). These cases, in any event, are distinguishable from the ones before this Court because the person in need of supervision and juvenile delinquent are charged not in Family Court with violating Penal Law 215.50 (3) but rather in a local criminal court because they are 16 and as a result face a penal sanction. In People v. Prescott, the Court rejected the application of Penal Law 110.00 (attempt to commit a crime) to Vehicle and Traffic Law articles 31 and 20. The Court said "the People are asking the courts to create an offense not contemplated by the detailed statutory scheme." (Prescott, supra, at 661.) The Court ruled, after acknowledging while such was theoretically possible, that "in light of the distinct nature of article 31 [and article 20] of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, the statute's exclusive penalties, and the highly integrated statutory scheme, the Legislature did not contemplate" (Prescott, supra, at 663) adding another offense arising from the proscribed conduct. The Court concluded, "[a] determination otherwise would only lead to judicial and administrative confusion" (Prescott, supra, at 663). There can be no question that articles 3 and 7 of the Family Court Act have a "distinct nature." In Matter of Samuel W. v. Family Ct. (24 NY2d 196, 197), the Court defined family law as a "special system of law for treating young juvenile offenders"; or, as one commentator stated, "the juvenile court was expected to become the center of society's efforts to help children and families in trouble." (See, Besharov, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Law of NY, Book 29A, Family Ct Act 711, at 10.)