Has Your Juvenile Son or Daughter Been Arrested in NYC? - Family Court Appearance Tickets and the “Intake Interview”

If your underage child (including 18 year olds) has been arrested in New York City, then under new laws, you and your child may well find yourself entangled not in Criminal Court, but rather Family Court.

While it is tempting to believe that becoming embroiled in Family Court is a relief and that you can relax as a parent, you should know that criminal charges in Family Court are complicated and potentially more dangerous to your child than a visit to what is portrayed as the big bad Criminal Court. Family Court has the power to detain your child, and Family Court has the power to interfere with your custody of your child, and Family Court has the power to cause your child to be “placed” in juvenile detention facility.

Family Court has the power to do these things in the absence of many of the protections in place for the accused in Criminal Court. For example, the right to a trial decided by an independent jury does not exist in Family Court. All “fact findings” (the Family Court version of a trial) are decided by Judges. Therefore, right off the bat, one of the basic and most important of the checks on the Government available to those accused of crimes as adults is unavailable to your child.

Therefore, to the extent that you hope or have been led to believe that everything is perfect for your child simply because the matter has been referred to Family Court instead of Criminal Court, you need to consider your options more carefully.

And unfortunately, you need to act quickly to best protect the interests of your child. Family Court, at least initially, moves quickly.

If your child has been accused of a misdemeanor type offense, such as petit larceny (shoplifting), criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, marijuana possession, trespass, theft of services, or even assault in the third degree, you may well have a Family Court Appearance Ticket that directs you and your child for an “intake interview” with the Department of Probation at Family Court.

It may sound as if this intake interview is some preliminary step that does not require preparation or counsel, where mundane information is gathered and some forms are filled out, but this is absolutely not the case. The intake interview with Probation at Family Court is a vitally important part of the process and can be an opportunity to conclude the matter entirely. You and your child need help with this to take advantage of the opportunity it presents.

After the intake interview, the Department of Probation has the option to “adjust” your child’s case. If the Department of Probation recommends adjustment, this would mean that the case would not be referred to the Court at all. Probation may impose some requirement (like say participation in a class or counseling) or may impose no requirement at all, but if the matter is adjusted it represents an opportunity for you and your child to avoid Family Court entirely, which is a significant bonus.

Therefore it is absolutely vital to obtain criminal defense counsel who can help prepare you and your child for the intake interview, and even appear with you and your child. Especially if your child is charged with what would be considered a more minor first offense like petit larceny (shoplifting), criminal possession of a controlled substance, trespass, theft of services, or assault in the third degree, your child is certainly in the running for being considered for adjustment. This is the time to make sure you have taken advantage of every opportunity to obtain adjustment and be prepared with your best foot forward at the intake interview.

And even if the intake interview does not result in adjustment, at least you will know that you did all you could, and that you have experienced criminal defense counsel involved in the matter from the start. The fact that the case is not adjusted is not the end of the world, of course, and experienced criminal defense counsel can help navigate you and your child through the Family Court process and protect your child’s rights.

But beware. The intake interview is often scheduled quite quickly after arrest, so it is important to begin the process of finding counsel right away. The intake interview should be seen as an opportunity to navigate your child away from the Family Court process. The adjustment process exists as a means to identify those juveniles who in truth are not in need of what Family Court has to offer, and therefore if the case can be made that your child is not in need, then why not make that case in the strongest possible way.

James Shalley and Don Murray have been helping people, including young people and juveniles accused of crimes in New York City for more than 25 years each. Shalley and Murray is an established New York City criminal defense only law firm. We can help you and your son or daughter too. If your son or daughter has a Family Court appearance ticket because of an arrest for Petit Larceny, Trespass, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Criminal Possession of Marijuana, Theft of Services, Assault in the Third Degree, or any other criminal charge, misdemeanor or felony, we can help. Call us right away for a free consultation about your son or daughter, and create every possible advantage for him or her.

Call or text us now at 718-268-2171.


Don Murray, New York City criminal defense lawyer and founding partner at Shalley and Murray, has been helping young people accused of crimes in New York City for more than 25 years. He can help your son or daughter too.

Call or text now at 718-268-2171