FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 21, 2022
Assemblymembers Michael Reilly (R-Staten Island) and Michael Tannousis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) introduced legislation today that would increase accountability and penalties on adolescent offenders in possession of a loaded gun. The measure comes in the aftermath of two incidents in New York City this week – one involving a teenage suspect – where police officers were shot in the line of duty. Gun crimes and gun violence continue to plague New York City with little or no effective response from public officials. In the past two years, the number of shooting victims in New York City has increased by 101 percent.
“When a young person intentionally and illegally carries a loaded weapon, they present an inherent danger to everyone around them. A teenage gang member shot a police officer this week while on probation for a previous gun crime. The painful reality is we’re seeing an increasing level of violence play out in our streets every day,” said Reilly, a former Lieutenant with the New York City Police Department. “The sole intent of this legislation is to provide a measure of safety to our neighborhoods and hold criminal actors to an appropriate standard of accountability relative to the crime committed. Possession or use of a loaded weapon shouldn’t fall under the jurisdiction of Family Court. It’s time to take off the kid gloves and finally close the revolving door that allows youthful offenders to repeatedly commit acts of violence. Wake up New York!”
“Shootings have increased drastically in our streets. We have seen incidents where teenagers have either shot each other, innocent bystanders, or police officers,” said Tannousis, a former Assistant District Attorney who served in both the Bronx and Staten Island. “From my time as a prosecutor, I know that gang members routinely utilize younger members of the gang to either carry loaded firearms or carry out shootings because they know that the repercussions for them would not be severe. For this reason, this legislation is necessary to close that legal gap that would otherwise continue this wave of senseless violence. Incidents of possessing or utilizing a loaded firearm should not be adjudicated in Family Court.”
On Tuesday night, an NYPD officer was shot during a confrontation with a 16-year-old in the Bronx. The suspect was recently placed on probation in December after being charged with possession of a gun in May 2020. At the time of the original gun arrest, he was only 14 years old. Both the officer and the teen are expected to recover.
Under current law, when a felony is committed by a suspect who is 16- to 17-years-old, a District Attorney must prove one of the following extraordinary circumstances exists to prevent the case from moving out of Criminal Youth Part and into Family Court:
- the defendant caused significant physical injury to a person other than a participant in the offense; or
- the defendant displayed a firearm, shotgun, rifle or deadly weapon as defined in the penal law in furtherance of such offense; or
- the defendant unlawfully engaged in sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct or sexual contact as defined in section 130.00 of the penal law.
This legislation is necessary because it will allow the mere possession of a loaded firearm to count as one of the extraordinary circumstances permitting the defendant to be tried in the youth part of the criminal court. A draft of the legislation can be found online at www.bit.ly/33FSfKv.
According to statistics from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), in 2020, only 3 percent (119 of 3,727) of 16- and 17-year-olds arrested on a felony charge received a felony conviction. Even more troubling is that of this number, only 44 adolescent offenders received sentences in excess of one year imprisonment, despite the fact that there were 48 arrested for homicide; 52 for attempted homicide; 55 for sex offenses; 460 for firearms/dangerous weapon offenses; and 13 for making a terrorist threat.
Reilly continued: “Across the state, more than 90 percent of cases involving adolescent offenders were moved to Family Court.‘Raise The Age’ reforms may have been well-intentioned, but they have almost completely removed criminal liability for horrific criminal acts. It’s time to stop handing out Get-Out-Of-Jail Free cards to offenders who continue to terrorize our communities.”