In New Jersey, the Juvenile Justice system is different. While designed to rehabilitate rather than punish, it has evolved into a complex system with a variety of diversionary programs. Separate courts, detention facilities, rules, and laws themselves were created for juveniles with the intent to protect their welfare and rehabilitation. This system is confusing, and cannot be navigated without the assistance of counsel. As a matter of fact, in New Jersey all juveniles are entitled to representation in Juvenile Court and will not be allowed to appear without an attorney.
When a juvenile is accused of a crime in New Jersey, the legal process is very much different than that of an adult. The juvenile crime is deemed an act of delinquency, and requires juvenile court intervention. There are sentencing options and alternative dispositions which only exist in Juvenile Court. Furthermore, there has been a strong push in recent years to have some juveniles waived over to adult courts for prosecution. This nationwide policy shift is based largely on the assumption that more punitive, adult criminal sanctions will act as a deterrent to juvenile crime. This is despite the fact that most studies suggest that these transfer laws have little to no general deterrent effect on would be juvenile offenders. Therefore, while the goal of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate rather than punish, juveniles still face severe penalties. A juvenile record can jeopardize your childs’ future and educational opportunities.
A major concern of the juvenile justice system is the rate of recidivism, or repeat offenders. New Jersey studies have shown that over one third of delinquent youths recidivated within 2 years of being freed from the system. With more than one third of all youth repeating criminal offenses within 2 years, the Juvenile Justice Commission has placed a high priority on reversing these trends. As such, a juvenile history has become more and more important in the eyes of the Court, and must be protected at all times.
Whether or not this is your childs first encounter with the New Jersey Juvenile Justice System, we can help. I have over 20 years experience handling juvenile matters, and I am familiar with the unique factors which govern these matters. Don’t place your childs’ future in doubt, give us a call today for a free consultation at (609) 294-8300 to see how we can help.