The juvenile justice system seeks to hold youths accountable for their misconducts. However, the system is also meant to aid juveniles, so they do not face incarceration or obtain a criminal record. The intention of the system is to fairly punish juveniles for their crimes, but also offer them an opportunity for rehabilitation. When a juvenile is charged with a crime, it is essential to speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Young people can be charged with status offenses which are
considered a violation of law due to the age of the offender. States vary in
what they consider status offenses. Examples include underage possession and
consumption of alcohol, running away from home, and truancy.
For acts that are considered adult crimes, juveniles will be charged with delinquency as opposed to a criminal charge. For example, if a juvenile is accused of burglary, the charge would be for the act of burglary. If this act was committed by an adult, it would constitute a crime of the third degree.
In New Jersey, a juvenile is anyone under the age of 18. The
state has a responsibility to act in the best interests of a juvenile that is
facing criminal prosecution. The prime objective is to be protective rather
than punitive. The Juvenile Justice Commission is the state agency responsible
for developing and implementing programs to aid in this effort.
This protective approach ensures public safety while preserving
families and preventing juveniles from committing crimes in the future.
What to Expect If Taken Into Custody
When someone under 18 is arrested or taken into custody, they
are detained in a Juvenile Detention Facility. At the facility, they will be
evaluated to determine whether they pose a threat to themselves or others. A
judge will decide whether the youth will be released or remain in custody.
Legal Action Against Juveniles for Less Serious Offenses
A young person charged with a status offense who has no prior
offense history in the state, will be handled using an informal process. A
notice of appearance will be sent with a set date for an initial proceeding. In
this proceeding, a municipal judge or other appointed official will make an
informal ruling. The ruling usually refers the case to a Juvenile Conference
Committee for a resolution. The committee can order that the child undergo
drug, alcohol, or psychological counseling. Other potential outcomes are
community service, fines, or restitution, depending on the circumstances.
Legal Action Against Juveniles for More Serious Acts
Proceedings regarding more serious acts are heard in the
Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. In this case, a juvenile will
be charged with an act of delinquency on a complaint of juvenile delinquency rather
than being charged with a crime on criminal complaint. The charging document
clarifies the status of the defendant as a juvenile. These cases require legal
representation of the juvenile.
The first step in the proceedings is a plea hearing where
evidence is provided, and the juvenile enters a plea. At this stage, a plea
agreement may be negotiated. If the case is not resolved at this point, an
adjudicator hearing will be held before a judge. The case must be proven beyond
a reasonable doubt. If a juvenile does not prevail, the youth has 45 days to
appeal the decision.
The disposition of the case will be based on the specifics of
the case. Outcomes can include counseling, residential mental health or
substance abuse treatment, community service, or probation.
Juveniles can be detained if found guilty of charges of a
serious nature. The Juvenile Justice Code specifies sentencing requirements for
a juvenile. Rehabilitation of a juvenile is considered the best course of action;
their charges will generally be much less than an adult who is charged.
Haddonfield Criminal Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Help Juveniles
Who Are Charged with Crimes
If your child has been accused of delinquency, you may have several questions about your legal options. Issues arise immediately as to whether the child will be held in custody, so it is best to speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Our knowledgeable Haddonfield criminal lawyers at Aita Law, LLC have experience handling various juvenile cases. Contact us online or call us at 856-287-7800 for a free consultation today. With offices conveniently located in Haddonfield and Marlton, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in Cherry Hill, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.
KENNETH D. AITA, ESQUIRE
Mr. Aita has successfully defended thousands of criminal cases. When you or a loved one is charged with a crime, it is an extremely daunting and frightening time. Criminal charges and convictions can have devastating effects on your life. You can be fired from your job, you can hurt your ability to get employment in the future, and most importantly could lose your precious freedom. Mr. Aita not only has the experience and expertise to represent you, but the compassion and understanding to help you through this difficult and confusing process. In a criminal case, everyone is against you; the police, the judge, and certainly the prosecutor, whose job is to get convictions. Mr. Aita is not only your skilled legal advocate, but is in your corner to protect you against the vast government resources that are against you. Make no mistake, fighting a criminal case is a war. You need an attorney willing to go to battle. Mr. Aita is in the trenches every single day tirelessly fighting for justice for his clients.