New York is one of two states that treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for all crimes. That policy creates harsh results, such as where minors are tagged with a criminal record for committing a misdemeanor that consists of conduct that is sometimes seemingly harmless. In those cases, the state is marring the life of the teen by tagging him or her with a conviction of a criminal offense on conduct that may be directly tied into the youth's lower economic standing and paucity of supportive resources.
The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice reported that the NYPD made about 23,000 arrests of 16- and 17-year-olds each year during 2011, 2012 and 2013. More than 75 percent of these were for misdemeanors and not felonies. The system then hounds these juveniles for the fines, along with penalties into the hundreds of dollars.