New Jersey Juvenile Crime Lawyers
As a parent or guardian, there is nothing more unsettling than getting a phone call that your child has been arrested. If you are in this situation, our team of lawyers has provided the following information on how juvenile crimes are handled in the state of New Jersey. We believe that by explaining as much as possible about the situation your child is in, we can help quell some of your fears.
New Jersey’s juvenile court system is designed to rehabilitate offending youth, not punish them. However, the court also seeks to hold responsible parties accountable for criminal conduct. Our team of juvenile crime lawyers can help your child fulfill their potential in life by fighting to keep their criminal record clean. Shebell & Shebell has successfully represented clients in family courts throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties.
The Juvenile Justice Process
In New Jersey, those charged with committing a crime while under the age of 18 are usually subject to the juvenile justice system, which is separate and distinct from the adult criminal justice system. Juvenile delinquency cases usually begin when a child is taken into custody on “suspicion of juvenile delinquency.” This means that they are suspected of committing an offense that would be classified as a crime or municipal ordinance violation if an adult had committed it.
After being taken into custody, juveniles are usually released to their parents without any conditions. However, in some cases, the child will be released under certain conditions, such as a requirement to go to a drug rehabilitation program. When the alleged offense is particularly serious, the child may be detained pending a detention review hearing.
Regardless of whether the child is detained or released to their parents’ custody, New Jersey Family Court Intake Services will then evaluate the case. They may make a determination that the case does not need to go to court, in which case the child is granted admission to a diversionary program such as an Intake Service Conference or a Juvenile Conference Committee. Offenses that are usually diverted include minor offenses such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct, trespassing or criminal mischief.
More serious offenses such as assault and possession of a controlled dangerous substance are generally sent to Family Court. For particularly egregious offenses, such as armed robbery, the prosecutor may seek to have the case moved to the Superior Court’s Criminal Division. In the adult criminal justice system, your child would be treated as an adult during sentencing. Convictions may result in a term of imprisonment. In very rare cases, there are advantages to having a juvenile’s case transferred to the Criminal Division. For example, because there is no option for a jury trial in juvenile cases resolved in family court, certain cases might fare better in criminal court where a jury can see your child and hear their side of the story. In making these decisions, you need a competent juvenile defense attorney in your corner.
What Happens in Court?
Juvenile delinquency cases are heard in the county where the child resides. Adult criminal matters, on the other hand, are heard in the county where the alleged offense occurred. We are able to file a motion to have your child’s case transferred to the county where the offense took place, if doing so would be beneficial.
Juvenile cases are not open to the public. Only those involved in the case are allowed to attend. All records associated with the proceeding are confidential unless your child is convicted, in which case the conviction is placed on their permanent criminal record.
If the family court judge determines that your child committed the offense, there will be an adjudication of delinquency. The juvenile will be sentenced, which may result in incarceration at a youth house, detention center, or other juvenile justice institution. Our respected juvenile defense lawyers will make every effort to ensure that this does not happen to your child.
Diversionary Programs And Other Alternatives To Juvenile Court
An experienced juvenile crime lawyer at Shebell & Shebell can try to work out a deal with the intake officer to divert your child’s case to a probation officer before it ever gets to court. Having competent legal representation at the Intake Services Conference is essential so that a plea deal can potentially be negotiated.
Successful completion of a diversionary program can result in a dismissal of the charges pending against your child. This will not only keep your child out of a juvenile detention center, but also will ensure that they do not have an adjudication of delinquency placed on their permanent criminal record.
We may also be able to negotiate other alternatives to incarceration, including community service, counseling and restitution. For example, if your child has been accused of shoplifting, we may be able to persuade the arresting officer to dismiss the charges if you pay restitution to the store.
Consequences Unique to Juvenile Offenses
Certain crimes commonly committed by juveniles can result in “escalated” consequences. For example, if your child assaults a public official (for example, a teacher or a police officer), what would ordinarily be a simple assault charge is automatically escalated to aggravated assault.
Additionally, convictions for certain offenses (for example, possession of marijuana) may result in the loss of a juvenile’s driver’s license.
Expungement of Your Child’s Criminal Record
If your child is convicted, the conviction will persist on their criminal record into adulthood. Our goal is always to avoid a conviction. However, if that is not possible, or if your child has already been convicted of a crime, we can file a motion to seal or expunge the record of your child’s juvenile arrest and conviction.
We Zealously Defend Children Who Have Been Accused of Crimes
The experienced juvenile crime lawyers at Shebell & Shebell will stand with you every step of the way to ensure that your child’s careless mistake does not impact their life forever. Our reputable lawyers have developed a good working relationship with law enforcement officers, intake services officers, prosecutors and family court judges across the state of New Jersey. We represent juveniles throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County, including Howell, Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Wall, Union Beach and Neptune. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.