John M. Tyd


New York's Youthful Offender Statute has been described as "humane and progressive legislation intended for the benefit of a youth who makes his first mistake and that he should not be branded as a criminal therefor..." In keeping with this philosophy, the statute provides a system whereby a youth (i.e., an individual between the ages of sixteen and eighteen) can avoid the serious consequences which result from being convicted of a crime. Upon determination that youthful offender status should be granted, the conviction is vacated and replaced with a youthful offender finding. Prior to 1975, those youths indicted for crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment (a class A felony), or previously convicted of any felony, were excluded automatically from youthful offender consideration. In 1973 a revision of the state's drug laws had divided class A felonies into three sections (A-I, A-II and A-III) and provided a minimum sentencing term for each subdivision. The 1975 amendment to the youthful offender statute recognized this change in felony classifications. Under the new provisions, those youths indicted for class A-I and A-II felonies continued to be excluded from youthful offender treatment, while those indicted for A-I felonies became eligible for such treatment. This Note will examine the youthful offender statute and its 1975 amendment in light of People v. Drummond, which held that the pre-1975 statute violated the due process clause, and the conflicting lower court decisions.

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