When your son or daughter is caught within the grips of the juvenile justice system, the outcome of their case is a critical turning point, with the potential to permanently alter the trajectory of their life. In New Jersey, the juvenile justice system operates separate and apart from the criminal justice system used to prosecute adult defendants. This reality has a host of implications, affecting every component of the adjudication process, from the moment that a juvenile is taken into custody to the sentence imposed if he or she is found guilty. In order to successfully navigate through the juvenile justice process, it is essential to find an advocate who is well-acquainted with the unique rules that govern these proceedings and the nuances that play an integral role in the State’s decision-making as these matters proceed.
With over 45 years of experience practicing law in New Jersey, the attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have accumulated a wealth of knowledge in the realm of juvenile defense, protecting thousands of young lives and ensuring that their clients never become victims of the system. They have served as Prosecutors and developed unique insights into the intricacies on each side of the complex legal process. They utilize their unparalleled knowledge and experience to secure the most desirable outcomes for their clients and their families, developing life-long connections with many of the young people who credit him with providing their second chance. For a cost-free consultation, contact their offices anytime at 973-239-800. Answers and advocacy are just a phone call away.
The Juvenile Justice System in New Jersey
New Jersey’s juvenile justice system incorporates a myriad of specific and significant elements. Below is an outline of the standards and measures that govern this process.
- The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard: the juvenile justice system emphasizes reform and rehabilitation for defendants, standing in stark contrast with the adult criminal justice system, which focuses on punishment and deterrence.
- The Complaint Process: a juvenile cannot be legally arrested and instead, will be “taken into custody.” Law enforcement officials may seek to question a juvenile and/or charge him or her with a complaint for delinquency if they believe there is probable cause to support that the juvenile committed a felony, disorderly persons offense, or municipal ordinance violation.
- Legal Venue for Adjudication: juvenile cases are typically transferred to the county in which the juvenile resides, as opposed to the county or municipality in which the alleged offense occurred, as is the process for adult cases.
- Trial by Judge vs. Jury: juvenile cases are tried before a Family Court judge, meaning that the judge determines the outcome of the case, unlike the jury process used in most adult cases. Notably, many juvenile cases are decided without the necessity for a trial, but the appropriate resolution strategy must be assessed on a case-by-case basis
- Sentencing Alternatives: there are numerous available sentencing alternatives for juvenile defendants which may not be considered appropriate in adult cases, including: probation, community service, mental health counseling, rehabilitation programs, suspension of driving privileges, book reports, and what is known as a “deferred disposition,” which is similar to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program for adult defendants.
Common Juvenile Charges in New Jersey
Some of the most frequent charges issued against juvenile defendants in New Jersey include:
- Criminal Mischief
- Disorderly Conduct
- Drug Offenses: possession of marijuana under 50 grams, marijuana distribution and possession with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, cocaine possession and distribution, heroin possession and distribution, possession of CDS in a motor vehicle
- Simple Assault
- Possession of a Fake ID
- Sexual Assault
- Underage Possession or Consumption of Alcohol
- Underage DWI
When a person under the age of eighteen is charged with a particularly egregious crime such as murder or aggravated sexual assault, the State may request that he or she be tried as an adult and thus, exposed to the same penalties as an adult if convicted. Recent reforms to the juvenile justice system provide prosecutors with 60 days to reach this determination, which is then evaluated by a Family Court judge who is granted the authority to make the final decision.
Contact an Essex County NJ Juvenile Defense Lawyer to Discuss Your Child’s Case
If your child has been taken into custody and issued a juvenile complaint for delinquency, the stress and anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of their future can be overwhelming and all-consuming. By finding a seasoned legal advocate who can explain each step of the process and outline all of your available options, you can take an informed and collaborative approach to protecting one of the people you love most. The attorneys at Breslow Law offices are pleased to address all of your questions and concerns free of charge. Simply contact their office at 973-239-8000.