Seeing your child in custody on criminal charges can be a frightening and stressful experience. A child who receives a juvenile disposition or criminal conviction can face a lifetime of obstacles, even if they never serve any detention or prison time. They may find it hard to get the education and employment opportunities they deserve, putting their long-term welfare and happiness at risk. If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, the stakes are too high not to seek the help of a tough, experienced Monmouth County juvenile crime lawyer.
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our defense attorneys strive to make a difference for every client we represent. We have a track record of obtaining successful outcomes, including dismissal or reduction of charges, admission to diversionary programs that avoid conviction, and sentences with little or no incarceration time. Our legal team understands that every person’s circumstances are unique. That’s why we’ll take the time to get to know your child and your family and develop a strategy that fits the case and your needs.
Reach out to Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a free initial case review with a trusted Monmouth County juvenile crime lawyer.
Common Types of Juvenile Crime Cases We Can Help With
An experienced Monmouth County juvenile crime attorney with Keith Oliver Criminal Law can assist when your child is arrested for offenses such as:
- Drug crimes, including simple possession and possession with intent to distribute
- Underage drinking, including possession of alcohol and underage DUI
- Sexual offenses, including rape, sexual assault, and criminal sexual contact
- Assault, including simple assault from school or neighborhood fights and aggravated assault
- Theft, including robbery, armed robbery, carjacking, and burglary
- Shoplifting, including petty larceny and felony shoplifting
- Vandalism, including defacing public property and arson
- Disorderly persons offenses, such as loitering, trespassing, and disturbing the peace
- Computer crimes, including hacking, identity theft, and child pornography charges from sexting
How an Experienced Monmouth County Juvenile Crime Lawyer Can Help
If your child has been charged with juvenile crimes in Monmouth County, a lawyer from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help by:
- Ensuring you and your child understand the charges and potential outcomes in the case
- Independently investigating the case to uncover evidence and witness testimony to strengthen our defense
- Contesting the state’s case, including challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence to prove the allegations against your child beyond a reasonable doubt, or moving to exclude evidence that was obtained unlawfully or is otherwise unreliable or inadmissible
- Negotiating with the prosecution to seek a deferred disposition or, if necessary, a plea agreement that can help your child avoid the harshest consequences of adjudication or conviction
- Preparing an effective defense if your child’s case goes to trial, including working with experts to argue for mitigating factors during sentencing
What Are the New Jersey Juvenile Sentencing Guidelines?
New Jersey’s juvenile justice system prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment, with more lenient penalties for defendants who are tried as juveniles. As a result, juvenile courts have a wide variety of sentencing options to choose from, including:
- Obligations to pay restitution to victims
- Community service obligations
- Suspension of driving privileges
- Mental health or substance abuse treatment
- Requirement to comply with social support services
- Release to parental custody
- Placement in the custody and home of a relative or other qualified guardian
- Placement in the custody of the Department of Children and Families
- Probation (maximum of three years)
- Deferred disposition, where a juvenile can have their charges dismissed after they complete court-ordered requirements
- Requirement to participate in educational, vocational, or work programs
- Juvenile detention, or incarceration in a juvenile correctional facility
If a juvenile court chooses to impose detention as part of a defendant’s sentence, state law imposes certain sentencing guidelines based on the type of offense. New Jersey’s juvenile sentencing guidelines include:
- Petty disorderly persons offense: Detention solely at the discretion of the juvenile court
- Disorderly persons offense: Up to six months’ detention
- Fourth-degree crime: Up to one year of detention
- Third-degree crime: Up to two years’ detention
- Second-degree crime: Up to three years’ detention
- First-degree crime: Up to four years’ detention
Juveniles who receive a disposition or adjudication for an act of murder may face detention of up to 20 years, although a juvenile who commits murder is usually tried as an adult. In addition, if a juvenile is convicted of a sex-based offense, they may be required to register as a sex offender, although juveniles who commit a sex offense before age 14 can apply to be removed from the sex offender registry upon turning 18.
How Does the Judge Decide What Sentence to Impose on a Juvenile in N.J.?
The law recognizes the fundamental differences between juveniles and adults, including that juveniles lack the maturity and development necessary to appreciate the consequences of their actions or restrain impulses. The law also recognizes that juveniles can be more susceptible to the bad influence of peers and older individuals. As a result, New Jersey courts at both the juvenile and adult levels must consider several factors in deciding what kind of sentence to impose on a juvenile offender. These factors include:
- The facts and circumstances of the offense or offenses
- The consequences of the juvenile’s conduct, including the severity of any damage or injury they caused and the impact of the offense on the victim
- The potential threat the juvenile poses to public safety
- The juvenile’s age, prior juvenile or criminal history, and whether the juvenile has received any social services
- The juvenile’s physical, social, academic, and developmental needs
- The ability for the juvenile’s parents or guardians to participate in the juvenile’s rehabilitation
- Whether a sentence or disposition supports the juvenile’s well-being and safety and the unity of the juvenile’s family
- Any other relevant factors from the juvenile’s history
What You Need to Know About Expungement of Juvenile Criminal Records
Anyone can apply to have their juvenile record expunged three years after the completion of their disposition or sentence. The juvenile must also have paid all fines, court costs, and restitution to apply for expungement. In addition, a juvenile must meet other requirements such as:
- Not being adjudicated delinquent
- Not being convicted of a crime as an adult
- Not having any pending charges at the time of application for expungement
- Not having sought expungement of an adult criminal record previously
While most offenses can be expunged, certain serious crimes are deemed ineligible for expungement, including:
- Aggravated sexual assault
- False swearing
Juvenile Crime FAQs
Our juvenile clients and their parents have often asked the following questions regarding juvenile criminal offenses in Monmouth County:
Under New Jersey law, a child age 15 or older may be tried as an adult under certain circumstances. The state can seek a waiver to transfer a juvenile case to the adult criminal courts. This usually occurs only in serious or violent crimes, such as homicide, first-degree robbery, carjacking, sexual assault, aggravated assault, kidnapping, possession of firearms for unlawful purposes, or drug trafficking or production.
Courts must consider various factors in deciding to waive a juvenile to adult criminal court, including:
- The nature of their offense
- The juvenile’s age
- Degree of culpability
- Mental capacity
- History of delinquency
- The juvenile’s prior and potential response to rehabilitation
- The potential danger the juvenile poses to the public
While a juvenile will need to appear for some sort of hearing to address a criminal charge, in some cases these hearings are much less formal than a trial. For example, a juvenile may be referred to an intake services conference, which meets with the juvenile, their parent(s)/guardian(s), and the individual who filed the criminal complaint to arrive at a recommended disposition that must be approved by the court. A juvenile may also be referred to an informal hearing before a referee. Finally, a juvenile’s case may end up on the court’s formal calendar for a trial-like hearing where the juvenile has the constitutional right to counsel.
Yes, in New Jersey, a judge will have the authority to keep a juvenile detained, pretrial, pending the outcome of their case, if the facts surrounding the incident warrant it. Anytime a juvenile is taken into custody and charged as a delinquent and denied release to a parent or guardian, a hearing must be conducted the next morning to determine if the juvenile will formally be detained. Learn more about detention hearings in juvenile court in Freehold.
Unlike the adult criminal justice system, all juvenile cases will be heard in the county where the child resides, regardless of where the incident took place. However, if the case involves multiple co-defendants and they reside in different counties, then the county where the incident occurred will have jurisdiction over the case.
We have different levels of juvenile court in New Jersey. The specific offense and the juvenile’s criminal history will play a major role in determining what type of preceding the child receives. The potential options include:
Yes, New Jersey has several Juvenile Detention Centers throughout the state. The main detention center, which is known as New Jersey Training School, is located in Monroe Township, which is in Middlesex County. Although the potential exposure a juvenile faces if convicted of a crime pales in comparison to that of what an adult would have to serve, the exposure can be absolutely devastating.
Our Monmouth County Juvenile Crime Attorneys Will Fight for Your Child’s Future
A delinquency adjudication or a criminal conviction can have a devastating effect on your child’s future. If your child is facing criminal charges, contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a free, confidential consultation with an experienced and tenacious Monmouth County juvenile crime lawyer.