Family Court Act, Article 3, Juvenile Delinquency Part 4, § 340.1: Time of fact-finding hearing

In New York if you commit a crime and are older than 7 but younger than 16, typically the case is not heard in criminal court by a criminal court judge. Instead, it is managed in Family Court. Instead of a determination being made as to whether or not the accused committed a crime, a determination is made as to whether or not the minor is as "juvenile delinquent" who committed a "delinquent act." Another distinction between a criminal proceeding for an adult and a juvenile delinquency proceeding is that in Family Court the proceeding is referred to as a "fact-finding hearing" as described in New York Family Court Act, Article 3, Juvenile Delinquency, Part 4. There are specific rules relating to when a fact-finding hearing must be held which are based on whether or not the minor is in detention, and the seriousness of the act he or she is accused of committing. Under New York Family Court Act, Article 3, Juvenile Delinquency, Part 4, § 340.1, the timing of a fact-finding hearing is as follows:

  1. If the minor is in detention and is accused of committing a Class A, B or C felony, the fact-finding hearing must begin no more than 14 days after the initial appears.
  2. If the minor is not in detention the fact-finding hearing must begin no more than 60 days after the initial appearance.

However, there are circumstances under which the fact-finding hearing may be delayed.

  1. If the minor is in detention the court may postpone the fact-finding hearing for a maximum of three days on its own motion for good cause.
  2. If the minor is not in detention the court may postpone the fact-finding hearing for a maximum of 30 days on its own motion for good cause.
  3. The court may postpone the fact-finding hearing for a reasonable period of time if the minor has been accused of homicide or of a crime that caused someone to be rendered incapacitated so that that person could not attend court.
  4. The court may postpone the fact-finding hearing for a maximum of 30 days on a motion by the minor for good cause.
  5. The court may delay the proceeding for a maximum of 6 months if the case has been adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.
Example

George T was arraigned in Family Court on a juvenile delinquency charge related to possessing marijuana. If the charge was filed against an adult, the charge would be possession of marijuana in the fifth degree, a Class B misdemeanor. He was placed in secure detention while he awaited his fact-finding hearing. The matter was adjourned for 4 days for a probable cause hearing. It was adjourned for 3 additional days upon motion by the minor's law guardian for a pretrial suppression hearing. There were several more delays in the case. During the entire time the minor remained in secure detention. Finally, over 60 days later the law guardian filed a motion to dismiss the case on speedy trial grounds. The motion was granted. Matter of George T., 756 N.Y.S.2d 103 (N.Y., 2002)

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Fact-finding hearing; order of procedure: New York Family Court Act, Article 3, Juvenile Delinquency, Part 4, § 342.1
  2. Evidence in fact-finding hearings; required quantum: New York Family Court Act, Article 3, Juvenile Delinquency, Part 4, § 342.2
  3. Fact-finding hearing; removal: New York Family Court Act, Article 3, Juvenile Delinquency, Part 4, § 346.1
Remedy

The juvenile delinquency provisions of the Family Court Act are very specific about when a fact-finding hearing must be held. A juvenile delinquency case cannot be delayed unless the court has good cause. Even if the case is lawfully delayed, the delay must be brief. If a case has been unnecessarily delayed in violation of Family Court Act, Article 4, Child Protective Services, Part 3, § 340.1, then the judge must dismiss the case on speedy trial grounds.

Family Court Act, Article 4, Child Protective Services, Part 3, § 340.1: Time of fact-finding hearing
  1. If the respondent is in detention and the highest count in the petition charges the commission of a class A, B, or C felony, the fact-finding hearing shall commence not more than fourteen days after the conclusion of the initial appearance except as provided in subdivision four. If the respondent is in detention and the highest count in such petition is less than a class C felony the fact-finding hearing shall commence no more than three days after the conclusion of the initial appearance except as provided in subdivision four.
  2. If the respondent is not in detention the fact-finding hearing shall commence not more than sixty days after the conclusion of the initial appearance except as provided in subdivision four.
  3. For the purposes of this §, in any case where a proceeding has been removed to the family court pursuant to an order issued pursuant to § 725.05 of the criminal procedure law, the date specified in such order for the defendant's appearance in the family court shall constitute the date of the initial appearance.
  4. The court may adjourn a fact-finding hearing: (a) on its own motion or on motion of the presentment agency for good cause shown for not more than three days if the respondent is in detention and not more than thirty days if the respondent is not in detention; provided, however, that if there is probable cause to believe the respondent committed a homicide or a crime which resulted in a person being incapacitated from attending court, the court may adjourn the hearing for a reasonable length of time; or (b) on motion by the respondent for good cause shown for not more than thirty days; or (c) on its own motion for not more than six months if the proceeding has been adjourned in contemplation of dismissal pursuant to § 315.3.
  5. The court shall state on the record the reason for any adjournment of the fact-finding hearing.
  6. Successive motions to adjourn a fact-finding hearing shall not be granted in the absence of a showing, on the record, of special circumstances; such circumstances shall not include calendar congestion or the status of the court's docket or backlog.
  7. For purposes of this §, if a warrant for the respondent's arrest has been issued pursuant to § 312.2 of this article due to the respondent's failure to appear for a scheduled fact-finding hearing, computation of the time within which such hearing must take place shall exclude the period extending from the date of issuance of the bench warrant for respondent's arrest because of his or her failure to appear to the date the respondent subsequently appears in court pursuant to a bench warrant or appears voluntarily; provided, however, no period of time may be excluded hereunder unless the respondent's location cannot be determined by the exercise of due diligence or, if the respondent's location is known, his or her presence in court cannot be obtained by the exercise of due diligence. In determining whether due diligence has been exercised, the court shall consider, among other factors, the report presented to the court pursuant to subdivision two of § 312.2 of this article.
New York Juvenile Delinquency Lawyer

If your child has been accused of committing a crime, it is critical that your child has experienced representation. Juvenile delinquency procedure is complicated. The outcome of your child's case could have a significant impact on his or her future. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully representing juvenile clients in New York Family Court as well as in criminal court who have been accused of committing misdemeanors and felonies. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those involved in juvenile delinquency matters in the following locations:

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