GOP senators expect raise the age deal in final budget

“ALBANY — Barring an unexpected development, raising the age of criminal responsibility will be included in the state budget this year, according to the Senate’s number two Republican.

“I think it will be done,” Sen. John DeFrancisco said Thursday on Fred Dicker’s radio show.

However, DeFrancisco was less enthusiastic about what the reform — which would restrict the number of 16- and 17-year-olds who are tried as adults in criminal court — would do to the state’s criminal justice system.

“It’s going to be done wrong,” he said. “Let’s see what the consequences are.”

Republican Sen. Pat Gallivan, one of the key Republicans working on the issue and chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, was more optimistic Senate Republicans would be able to reach a satisfactory agreement with Democratic leaders.

“I would hope so,” he said to Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom.

Fifty-nine percent of voters statewide said 16- and 17-year-olds should not be charged as adults, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Legislative leaders Wednesday appeared to settle on a two-court solution — likely family court for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies and a criminal youth court for serious offenses — leaving what’s considered “nonviolent” still in flux.

Gallivan said some crimes, such as breaking into an abandoned home, are considered violent for sentencing purposes but may be on the table for family court adjudication.

“Not all designated violent crimes are indeed violent,” he said. “In general terms, everyone is in agreement that murder is violent. That rape is violent. Things of that nature.”

Another potential speed bump toward an agreement is what discretion prosecutors or judges have in determining which court a case goes to. Gallivan said there should be a role for judges to weigh the individual factors of a case in determining whether it was a violent or nonviolent offense.

“We have an incredibly small number that are that gray area — the individual who might have been involved in a robbery where an injury took place, but was a lookout or in the car waiting,” he said. “What are the best parameters to figure out about that type of kid?”

There was talk earlier this week that raise the age talks could derail the rest of budget negotiations, but DeFrancisco said he expects a budget to pass by the end of the week.”

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