Juvenile offenses in the State of New Jersey are taken seriously by law enforcement and the court system, and juveniles accused of committing a criminal offense can face severe consequences. For this reason, the courts require that every juvenile that is charged with a violation of the law must have legal representation, regardless of the seriousness of the offense. New Jersey is concerned with protecting its youth and molding them into the successful men and women of tomorrow. That is why the courts take steps to protect the identity of juvenile offenders, separate them from adult offenders when detention is necessary, and employ a rehabilitative approach in dealing with adolescents.
In order to be considered a juvenile offender, an individual must have committed a crime prior to their 18th birthday. Any crimes committed after an individual is 18 years of age will not be heard in juvenile court. However, due to the seriousness of some criminal acts, juveniles can be referred to adult criminal court. Common offenses for which juveniles appear before the court are driving under the influence or underage possession of alcohol, drug possession or distribution, crimes of assault or threat of assault, disorderly conduct, and truancy.
Because criminal violations of the law can tarnish an individual’s name, reputation, and future endeavors, juvenile court proceedings are not open to the public. Additionally, the outcomes of juvenile cases are determined by the judge, unlike adult criminal cases which are decided by a jury of their peers. It is important to protect the juvenile, but it is also necessary to make sure the juvenile offender receives the services and supervision necessary to their continued personal growth.
The goal of the juvenile court system in New Jersey is not to punish juvenile offenders but to help them and rehabilitate them, unlike adult criminal court that is only concerned with punishing criminal offenders. While juvenile offenders can be placed on probation or even sent to a detention center, the judge presiding over the case has several rehabilitative measures from which to choose including community service, restitution, counseling, and job placement. The best interest of the juvenile in question is always the top priority within the juvenile court system.
Even though this is the case, it is of utmost importance to have an attorney on your side that is familiar with the laws regarding juvenile offenses and family court proceedings. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your child gets the help and assistance that he or she needs to aid in his or her development.
Because juveniles charged with a crime in NJ can have a devastating impact on the juvenile and those they love, securing professional legal services from a caring and considerate attorney can be of great value to a family.