Juvenile delinquency is a crime or penal violation committed by a minor under 18. According to the Juvenile Law Center, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that every juvenile has the civil right to counsel. New Jersey law also holds that youths have a right to counsel at “every critical stage in the proceeding” of the juvenile court.
However, many youths face pressure to appear in court or make a statement without an attorney. Unfortunately, some agents in law enforcement and the legal system take advantage of the naivety of juvenile delinquents.
Not every lawyer handles juvenile defense
Even with a lawyer, they might not prepare a good defense or have the qualifications to work a juvenile case. Not every attorney knows about juvenile criminal defense. Without the backing of a solid legal team, your child might face unjust charges. In extreme cases, the prosecution might push for a transfer to adult court.
Juveniles have the final say for counsel
Remember, a juvenile cannot waive their right to counsel except under particular circumstances. The youth must first speak with their counsel before waiving them, and a parent or guardian must also have the opportunity to talk with the attorney. If a child is of sound mind, the parent or guardian cannot waive the right to counsel for them. Before undergoing the legal process, ensure your child knows their rights and prepare them to resist manipulation.
No one wants to enter the juvenile court system. However, this does not mean you should neglect your rights as a New Jersey resident. Do not allow your child to give statements without an attorney, and make sure they have counsel every step of the way.