If an individual younger than 18 years old commits a crime in New Jersey, it is called a “juvenile crime.” The minor individual may face legal consequences in a New Jersey juvenile court.
Although the adult criminal justice system is aimed toward punishment or retribution, the New Jersey juvenile justice system hopes to rehabilitate and treat the juvenile offender. His or her juvenile case is typically heard in family court.
Trial by jury doesn’t happen in the juvenile court system. A family court judge determines if the juvenile individual is guilty of committing a crime. The judge may wish to send the case to the Juvenile Conference Committee or resolve the case by ordering community service, juvenile probation or another measure.
Sometimes, the juvenile will face enhanced penalties for certain crimes. For instance, if he or she is accused of marijuana possession (or another controlled dangerous substance), he or she faces mandatory fines and loss of driving privileges.
In some circumstances, a minor may be tried as an adult. If the juvenile is accused of committing a serious or violent crime, such as armed robbery or murder, the prosecutor may ask the court to try the accused minor as an adult.
If a juvenile is tried as an adult, he or she faces prosecution and sentencing as an adult. For that reason, the decision to try the juvenile as an adult is a very important one.
An experienced criminal defense attorney may be instrumental in ensuring the minor is tried in juvenile court.
An unfortunate misconception is that a person with juvenile convictions has the slate wiped clean when he or she turns 18. That’s not true. If the young person is convicted, as an adult or juvenile, the conviction remains on his or her permanent record—for life—unless the crime is expunged. Some convictions aren’t eligible for expungement.
Unfortunately, a juvenile crime can make it difficult or impossible to get into college or land a good job.
If you have been charged with a juvenile offense, you must retain an experienced defense attorney to successfully navigate the New Jersey juvenile justice system. Don’t answer any questions or accept an interview with investigators or police officers without an attorney present.
John W. Tumelty is a former prosecutor. He is also a certified criminal trial attorney. Contact The Law Offices of John W. Tumelty to discuss representation at 609.385.4010 or via our convenient online contact form. We have represented juveniles accused of a wide array of crimes, such as drug possession (or distribution), DWI/DUI, assault, theft, and disorderly conduct. We want your child to get a second chance, and we’ll aggressively work to ensure your child doesn’t obtain a lifelong criminal history.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.