Juvenile Crimes

New Jersey Lawyer Protecting the Rights of Defendants

In New Jersey, juveniles include anybody under age 18. The New Jersey Code of Juvenile Justice governs juvenile criminal proceedings. Juvenile criminal charges are handled in a different court with distinctive rules. Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the purpose of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate youth. Courts realize that children have the potential to change and then lead productive adult lives. Incarceration is viewed as a last resort. If your child is charged with a crime, it is important to retain a New Jersey juvenile crime lawyer. The Grimes Law Firm may be able to help you.

The New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission

The New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission is a central authority for juvenile crimes and the provision of services in the system. Through care, custody, and rehabilitative services, it is dedicated to improving outcomes for juveniles involved in the system, as well as their families and communities. The Commission also provides supervision and coordination services and supports local efforts to provide early intervention services when youth are at risk.

Juveniles enter the juvenile justice system when a complaint charging the commission of a delinquent act is signed. A police officer can take a juvenile into custody if they have probable cause to do so. Once the case is referred to the court, a minor in custody may be released to a parent or guardian. Case diversion may be performed by Juvenile Family Crisis Intervention Units.

Juvenile Crimes

A law enforcement officer can allege a violation of the law through a delinquency complaint. The complaint may concern a misdemeanor, felony, local ordinance violation, or contempt of court. The New Jersey Code of Juvenile Justice provides for different dispositional options. Options may provide for the protection and care of juveniles or removing children from certain consequences of adult criminal behavior.

There are certain crimes for which a juvenile may be tried as an adult, which makes it especially important to consult a juvenile crime attorney in New Jersey. These situations may involve serious violent crimes, a sexually motivated crime like rape, a long criminal history, or situations in which a juvenile was previously tried as an adult.

Criteria for Detention

In most cases, a minor will be released to their parents or guardian, and court approval is required for continued detention. 2A:4A-34 provides criteria for placing juveniles in detention in New Jersey. Detention may be appropriate to secure the presence of a juvenile at the next hearing, based on a prior willful failure to appear or to stay where placed by the court, or when a juvenile is subject to a current warrant for failure to appear at court proceedings. It may be appropriate if the physical safety of people or property would be seriously threatened if a juvenile were not detained, and a juvenile is charged with an offense that would be a crime of the first, second, or third degree when committed by an adult, or certain crimes of the fourth degree, such as stalking or possession of a prohibited weapon.

A New Jersey juvenile crime attorney can develop a strategy to avoid any penalties that may apply. Generally, juveniles can face the same penalties for serious crimes as adult convicted felons do. However, there are exceptions, and in general, the maximum term of incarceration is less than the term that an adult may face.

Differences in Constitutional Rights

Juveniles have many protections, but not all the same constitutional protections that adult criminals do. Innocence is presumed. Additionally, juveniles have a right to due process and the right to confront witnesses. As with adult crimes, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of a juvenile crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Juveniles can decide whether to testify or not. They have the right to counsel at every stage of a delinquency proceeding, including detention hearings, arraignments, disposition hearings, and violation of probation hearings. However, juveniles do not have the right to have their charges investigated by a grand jury. The judge will determine the outcome of the charges, and there is no jury. There is no right to release on bail.

Consult a Juvenile Crime Lawyer in New Jersey

A juvenile record can change the trajectory of a child’s future. If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime in New Jersey, you should retain a seasoned criminal defense attorney. At the Grimes Law Firm, we defend the accused in Somerset County, statewide, and throughout the tri-state area. Call us at (908) 371-1066 or contact us via our online form.

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