Understanding How the New Jersey Juvenile Justice System Works

Understanding How the New Jersey Juvenile Justice System Works

For parents, having a child get into trouble with the Juvenile Justice System is often one of their worst nightmares. A parent feels fear and anxiety when thinking about the criminal penalties the child faces and how it will affect his or her future. There is also often a feeling of being completely powerless and unable to protect your child once you begin dealing with the juvenile justice system. No doubt, parents experience a distinct lack of control over criminal proceedings and how their child is treated. As an experienced New Jersey juvenile defense attorney practice, we understand these serious concerns. The following provides important information about the juvenile justice system and what you can expect throughout your child’s criminal case.


Juvenile Crimes in New Jersey


Children are not perfect and it is only natural that they will make mistakes. Sometimes it is due to acting out over circumstances in their lives, trying to show off and impress their friends, or maybe they fell in with the wrong type of crowd. Juvenile crimes can stem from relatively minor incidents, such as skipping school, getting into fights, going to underage parties where alcohol is served, and trespassing on private property. Charges can also result from more serious criminal matters, such as theft, assault and battery, weapons violations, and drug crimes.


Under the New Jersey Administrative Code, a juvenile is defined as anyone under the age of 18. Given their lack of experience and maturity, the goal with youthful offenders is generally rehabilitation. However, this will depend on the nature of the charges and whether the juvenile has any prior criminal record. Other factors that can influence the judge in juvenile court proceedings include:


  • The quality of the child’s home life and the amount of support and supervision he or she receives from family;
  • The child’s grades at school and behavior record;
  • Whether the child is currently in therapy or has any diagnosed physical, mental, or developmental impairments;
  • Recommendations from coaches, school administrators, church members, or others.


In cases of serious offenses such as armed robbery, sexual assault, and homicide, juveniles could face charges as adults and the severe penalties associated with them. Again, this will depend on the circumstances and whether the juvenile has ever been convicted of a crime in the past.


The Juvenile Justice System


There are several ways the State of New Jersey deals with juvenile criminal offenders. In the case of minor offenses, their case may be referred to the Family Crisis Intervention Unit for short-term services. This will involve heavy involvement on their part and a commitment to attending all treatment and counseling sessions. In cases of more serious crimes and repeat offenders, they could be arrested and taken into custody by law enforcement officials.


Once they are officially charged with a crime and in custody, an adjudicatory hearing will be held to review the charges, the evidence against them, and the circumstances involved in their case. Unless the charges are dismissed, there are three basic outcomes they could possibly be facing:


  • They may be placed on probation and required to pay fines or restitution, while attending counseling and performing community service;
  • They may be sentenced to a 60-day commitment at a County detention facility;
  • They may be incarcerated for longer periods at a Juvenile Justice Center institution.


Let Our New Jersey Juvenile Defense Attorney Help You


At the Law Office Of Jordan B. Rickards, we provide a strong legal defense to protect your child. If your son or daughter is facing any type of criminal charges, contact our Miltown, NJ juvenile defense attorney and request a consultation to see how we can help.

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