It depends. In New York, children under the age of 16 are still considered minors for the purposes of New York criminal law. Therefore, parents must be notified when the child is arrested, should be present during any type of police questioning, and should be offered the opportunity to be involved during all stages of any criminal proceedings.
Unfortunately, in New York, 16 and 17 year olds are considered adults under New York’s criminal law. New York is one of only two states that set the age of 16 as the age of criminal responsibility. That means that if your 16 year old is charged with a crime, he or she may be placed in an adult facility, and you as the parent do not have a legal role in the case.
It’s frightening for many parents to think that their children may make a mistake at the age of 16 that could lead to a lifetime of incarceration, and that they aren’t allowed to serve a role in that process. Parents in New York are sometimes not even notified when their 16 or 17 year old children are arrested, because they aren’t legally required to be notified.
So what can you, as a New York parent, do if you have a 16 or 17 year old whom you fear could make a mistake or a bad choice and end up alone in the criminal justice system? Have a talk with him or her about making good choices. Let the child know that if he or she is ever arrested, not to say anything until an attorney is hired and that you must be notified immediately.