When a loved one has been arrested it can be nerve wracking but when that loved one is a your child, it can be downright terrifying. Although the underlying “laws” are the same, the juvenile criminal justice system is run completely different from the adult criminal justice system. That is why it is crucial that if you have been charged as juvenile, that you speak to not only an experienced criminal defense lawyer but an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer. The difference between the two systems are significant. It is well settled in New Jersey that the main goal of the juvenile criminal justice system is rehabilitation. However, that is totally dependent upon not only the underlying charges but the juvenile’s criminal record. If the charges are serious enough and/or if the juvenile is a repeat offender, then the goal of the justice system will shift towards a more punitive outlook.
Contact our Bridgewater Office to Discuss Your Juvenile’s Criminal Case Today
If you or your child has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense like simple assault, shoplifting, theft, disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, distribution of marijuana, burglary or trespassing, the juvenile defense lawyers at Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our criminal defense attorneys have been defending juveniles in courts throughout New Jersey, including the Somerset and Hunterdon County Juvenile Courts. If you would like to come into our office for a free face to face consultation then please contact our office at (908)533-1064. We defend juveniles charged with criminal offenses in towns like Flemington, Somerville, Somerset, Clinton, Raritan, Readington, Bound Brook, Bridgewater, South Bound Brook, North Plainfield, Watchung, Bedminster and elsewhere throughout the counties. As always, our initial consultations are free of costs, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What You Need to Know About Juvenile Criminal Justice System in NJ
As touched upon above, the juvenile criminal justice system is run completely different than the adult criminal justice system. That is why it is strongly recommended that you speak to an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible about your options. Although the goal of the system is geared more towards what is in the best interest of the child, the goal can quickly change if the charges are serious enough. For example, if the juvenile is accused of a serious crime like heroin distribution, unlawful possession of a weapon, burglary, carjacking, robbery, aggravated assault or homicide, there is a good chance that the juvenile could be “waived up”. If a juvenile is “waived up” that means the prosecutor’s office is seeking to prosecute the juvenile as an adult as opposed too as a juvenile. That could turn out to be absolutely devastating. Just to put that into perspective, a juvenile charged with a first degree felony would be facing up to four years in Jamesburg (juvenile jail). If that juvenile was charged as an adult on that same first degree felony they would be facing up to twenty (20) years in a state prison. In order for a waiver to occur, a hearing must first take place. This is why we strongly recommend that if you or a loved one is facing juvenile charges, that you speak to an experienced Somerset County juvenile criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your options.
Major Difference Between Adult and Juvenile Criminal Justice System in NJ
|Differences||Juvenile Criminal Justice System||Adult Criminal Justice System|
|Where do I appear?||The Family Division of the Superior Court of the County where the juvenile reside, regardless of where the incident happened and the degree of the underlying offense.||All felony offenses will be heard in Criminal Division of the Superior Court in the county where the incident occurred. All disorderly persons offenses will be heard in the local municipal court where the incident occurred.|
|Trials?||Bench Trial||Jury and/or Bench Trial|
|Goals||Rehabilitative / Best Interest of the Child||Punitive|
|Jail Time||Disorderly Persons: 6 Months|
4th Degree Felony: 1 Year
3rd Degree Felony: 2 Years
2nd Degree Felony: 3 Years
1st Degree Felony: 4 Years
|Disorderly Persons: 6 Months|
4th Degree Felony: 18 Months
3rd Degree Felony: 5 Years
2nd Degree Felony: 10 Years
1st Degree Felony: 20 Years
|Do I need an Attorney?||Mandatory||Optional|
Most Frequent Juvenile Crimes We Defend in Somerset County NJ
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, we have defend juveniles charged with crimes ranging from carjacking and armed robbery to simple assault and possession of marijuana under 50 grams. Our criminal defense attorneys are well versed in the juvenile criminal justice system in New Jersey. Here is some of the most common criminal charges that we defend juveniles on:
How to Bail Hearings Work for a Juvenile in Somerset County?
If a juvenile is taken into custody and charged with a crime, and it is determined that the juvenile will not be released to the custody of a parent or guardian, then a detention hearing must be conducted the next morning. At the detention hearing the Judge will be required to hear arguments from both the prosecution and the defense attorney on the issue of detention and they will then be called upon to make an initial decision on whether or not to release the juvenile. If the judge decides to detain the juvenile then he will be held without bail, pending trial. The issue of detention can always be challenged during later court proceedings.
What Happens if the Juvenile is Arrested in Another County?
Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the County where the juvenile resides will more likely than not dictate what County Courthouse will have original jurisdiction over the charges. All juvenile cases will be litigated in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the County where the juvenile resides and not necessarily where the incident happened. With that being said, if the case involves co-defendant’s and both of those individual’s reside in different counties, then the County where the incident happened will dictate what Court will have jurisdiction over the case. So, for example, if a juvenile who lives in Somerset County gets arrested and charged with burglary while on vacation in Belmar, their case will be transferred from the Monmouth County Superior Court to the Somerset County Superior Court. However, if there are co-defendant’s involved, and the co-defendant resides in Hunterdon County, then the case will not be transferred and will be litigated in the Family Division of the Monmouth County Superior Court.
What Happens if the Juvenile turns 18 After Being Charged?
To be charged as a juvenile in New Jersey the individual must be less than 18 at the time of the incident. Even if the individual does not get arrested until after they turn eighteen (18), so long as the events took place while they were under the age of 18 then their case would still be handled in Juvenile Court. Therefore, at the end of the day, as long as the individual was under the age of eighteen at the time of the commission of their case then they will be prosecuted in juvenile court.
Hunterdon County NJ Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have or a loved one is forced to appear in the Family Division of the Somerset or Hunterdon County Superior Court and answer criminal charges, the Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. As you can see, there are some rather crucial difference between the adult criminal justice system and the juvenile criminal justice system. That is why it is strongly recommend that you speak to an experienced New Jersey juvenile criminal defense lawyer about your options. We defend juveniles charged with crimes in towns like West Amwell, Manville, Hillsborough, Far Hills, Bedminster, Bernards, Watchung, Bridgewater, Clinton, Flemington and Lambertville. To schedule a free consultation today, please contact us at (908) 533-1064.