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NJ Juvenile Delinquency Law

30
Jun
2011

by in Juvenile Defense

New Jersey Juvenile Delinquency Lawyer

New Jersey juveniles are commonly arrested for criminal offenses such as marijuana possession, assault and burglary. Under New Jersey law, these are not technically “criminal” acts if committed by a juvenile. Rather, they are termed acts of delinquency. If your child has been accused of  delinquency in any county in New Jersey, I can help. I am a New Jersey juvenile delinquency lawyer who has handled many cases across the state. I have offices in Monmouth, Burlington, Bergen Morris, Hudson counties.

Waiver to Adult Court

Some juveniles can be tried as adults in New Jersey. This is through a process called “waiver.” The prosecutor’s office can proceed against a juvenile as an adult by making application to the judge. Waiver is mandatory in cases where the juvenile is 16 or older who has committed a serious offense if probable cause is found.

New Jersey Delinquency Law Overview

Juveniles accused of delinquency in New Jersey are adjudicated in the Family Part of the Law Division, Superior Court. The system of having separate justice systems for adults and juveniles emerged from the view that juveniles are less culpable for adult offenders. Concepts like deterrence, incapacitation and retribution are themes that permeate the adult criminal justice process. However, in juvenile proceedings these notions are supposed to give way to treatment, protective supervision and rehabilitation.

In the case of In Re Gault, the United States Supreme Court held that juveniles are entitled to all procedural rights that adult offenders receive. However, the McKeavor case, decided only a few years later, held that juveniles do not have a federal constitutional right to a jury trial. However, the law of some states, including New Jersey, does not square neatly with that case. In New Jersey, juveniles do not receive jury trials or grand jury presentments of their case. Some states allow juvenile jury trials in cases where the juvenile faces a consequence of an adult dynamic. Kansas is one state that allows this.

In New Jersey juvenile cases, there has been a shift in recent years on the issue of sentencing. The “best interests” of the child is no longer the standard. The courts now focus on the nature of the offense rather than on the juvenile. Some observers have also noticed a shift away from rehabilitation and toward punishment in New Jersey juvenile cases. Judges utilize a balancing test that includes factors such as the nature of the offense and prior record of the juvenile. There is also inclusions for promoting “accountability” and the protection of the community. There are other aggravating and mitigating factors that New Jersey juvenile judges can take into account.

A body called the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission exists by statute to oversee the juvenile justice process. See NJSA 2A:4A-22. In 1999, the Commission formulated a Master Plan that conducted a detailed fact finding. The Commission found that the problem of juvenile delinquency was growing and that current efforts were ineffectual. The Commission made several recommendations, including reducing the size of the Training School at Jamesburg and also increased funding for county alternative programs.

Helping Your Family

Having your son or daughter be accused of delinquency can be a stressful and confusing time. A professional can help guide you through this process and make sure you make the best decision on how to resolve the case. Both plea bargaining and trials are allowed in juvenile cases. Call now to speak with a NJ Juvenile Lawyer.

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