New Jersey Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
Experienced Juvenile Crimes Attorney Represents Minors in Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, Atlantic, Salem, Mercer, Cape May County, and Throughout NJ
Everyone makes mistakes, but as we all know, young people are particularly vulnerable to the concept of testing rules. When “rules” are actually New Jersey “laws,” the potential consequences are far more severe and can have an impact on a child’s life. Depending on the situation, the penalties associated with New Jersey juvenile crimes can be extremely serious — including real jail time. There are nearly 300 young individuals that are currently incarcerated in New Jersey prisons.
Adults tend to receive harsher punishments for similar crimes, but a conviction on a juvenile’s permanent record is still no laughing matter. This can easily affect their chances of employment or acceptance to educational institutions. Being charged with a crime and being young can be especially scary and overwhelming. The process of juvenile court also involves different procedures and requires a criminal defense lawyer who has had a lot of experience defending younger clients. Contact the offices of Jill R. Cohen today to schedule a free consultation for your juvenile court hearing.
Common Crimes Associated with Juveniles in New Jersey
Juveniles are known for consistently committing certain crimes more often than others. The most commonly seen crimes associated with those under the age of 18 include:
- Disorderly Persons Offenses – Traffic Violations, Curfew Violation, Disturbing the Peace, Loitering, Car Joyriding
- School Offenses – Campus Crimes, Truancy, Defaming School Property
- Assault and Threat Crimes – Threatening with a Weapon, Harassment, Stalking, Verbal Threats, Terroristic Threats, Physical Assault, Simple Assault, Bullying, Cyberbullying, Cybercrime
- Drug Crimes – Drug Possession, Drug Use, Drug Distribution, DUID
- DWI and Alcohol-Related Crimes – Underage Drinking, DWI, DUI
- Sexual Offenses – Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment
- Theft and Property Crimes – Shoplifting, Burglary, Theft, Vandalism, Breaking and Entering, Trespassing, Graffitti
- Weapons Charges – Possession, Threatening with a Weapon
Rehabilitation and Penalties for Juveniles in New Jersey
When a juvenile is convicted of a crime, the penalties that are laid out in turn tend to be a lot less intense than if it was an adult being convicted. Juvenile court sees detainment as a last resort and instead looks for ways to rehabilitate and educate instead. While people are young, they have a much better chance of being able to grow out of bad behaviors and poor attitudes. The justice system of America believes in trying to move a young criminal towards a better path whenever and wherever possible.
Penalties and rehabilitative requirements for convicted juvenile may include:
- Confinement – Juvenile is required to remain at home unless going to a job or school or other important situations such a funeral or a doctor’s appointment.
- New Guardian – Juvenile is moved to a new home with a relative or new guardian.
- Juvenile Hall – These are temporary juvenile jails and holding facilities for those awaiting a placement to a facility or program or awaiting pre-trial.
- Community Homes – Special homes that allow more freedom and group housing with other juveniles that also offer group therapy and other rehabilitation programs.
- Secured Juvenile Facilities – Similar to community homes but with more security and less privileges.
- Jail – This can be either juvenile jail or adult jail depending on conviction, age, and crime committed.
- Counseling – Therapy to help juveniles work through mental issues and personal problems.
- Drug Rehab – To help juveniles recover from drug addiction.
- Community Service – Volunteering, which can include anything from helping with charities to cleaning roads or parks.
- Essay Writing – Sometimes a judge decides a juvenile may benefit from personal reflection and writing about their life and decisions.
- Corrections Programs – Special programs are sometimes created such as educational programs (for example, Voices, which helps juvenile women with empowerment and self discovery).
- Other Penalties
- Reprimanding – Sometimes something is minor enough that a judge decides that verbal scolding and warning is the best option.
- Fines – Paying money is a lighter way of punishing and showing there are consequences to one’s actions.
- Electronic Monitoring – This can help monitor a juvenile’s whereabouts which can make them think twice before doing certain things.
- Probation – A program of supervision where a minor’s freedom is limited and activities are restricted. Often combined with other penalties or rehabilitation requirements.
Being Tried as an Adult and Serious Crimes Committed by New Jersey Juveniles
In certain situations, juveniles can be tried as an adult instead of in juvenile court. Different states have different requirements on how this can be done. Some states even have laws that state certain juveniles by a certain age are required to be tried as an adult for severe crimes such as rape or physical assault with a deadly weapon. For this to happen in New Jersey, a waiver must be submitted within 60 days and approved to move the case to the adult criminal court system. The individual in question must also be at least 14 years old.
There are both harsher penalties and harsher consequences for juveniles being tried as an adult. Not only are fines heavier and jail times/detainment periods longer, but the court system itself can be confusing and result in an unfair trial as well. It is difficult enough for adults to be fully aware of all their rights, and it is even more so for juveniles.
Other issues juveniles face include:
- Mistakenly believing that an arrest must mean that are guilty. This can often result in forced or false confessions.
- Falsely believing they have to speak in court.
- Too much trust put in a police officer or prosecutor resulting in a plea deal they did not need to enter.
- Waiving their right to public defender or attorney due to misplaced trust in authority figures or believing that no one can help them.
Defending Minors in New Jersey Courts
Depending on the circumstances of a client’s specific case, it may be adjudicated before a Juvenile Judge in New Jersey Family Court, in the Criminal Division of County Superior Court, or in a local Municipal Court. The factors that influence this include: age, place of residence, and the location in which the alleged offense occurred. Those under the age of 18 are considered a juvenile under New Jersey law. This means that a juvenile’s charges will be addressed in the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county in which you live.
Schedule a Free Consultation for Legal Advisement on the Next Best Steps After Receiving a Juvenile Criminal Charge in New Jersey
Being young and in trouble with the law can be a very scary experience. What is important to remember is that as a juvenile, our clients have a better chance to turn things around and face much less severe punishments should they receive a conviction in court. If you hire Jill Cohen, you can expect a quality New Jersey lawyer with a lot of experience in juvenile court who can fight for your rights, argue your innocence where applicable, and help work with the judge to get you the least severe penalties possible. Contact us online today for a free evaluation of your child’s criminal case. Jill Cohen serves juvenile defendants throughout South Jersey in Camden, Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Winslow, Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Haddon Township, Collingswood and Haddonfield.