Juvenile Defense Lawyers Morristown, NJ
New Jersey uses the “JJC” or Juvenile Justice Commission to address all of the criminal cases alleged against those considered minors under NJ Law. The terms “minor” and “juvenile” are used interchangeably to refer to individuals under the age of 18. The JJC is the entity responsible for all planning and policy development related to the juvenile justice system. It was created in 1995 to help ensure that juveniles had their own criminal justice system that was less punitive than the adult system. The focus is three major issues: the care, custody, and rehabilitation of minors in New Jersey. Although the juvenile system is dedicated to upholding the standard of the best interests of the child, this should not lead you to believe that juvenile charges cannot result in severe consequences for those found guilty.
Juvenile Court in New Jersey
In addition to protecting the interests of juveniles in the system, the JJC also protects citizens throughout the state of New Jersey by ensuring that there is a program that addresses minors who may be considered dangerous to others. Public safety and personal responsibility are at the forefront of the JJC’s goals. The focus is also always on encouraging young people to be productive, independent, and law-abiding citizens in New Jersey. Unfortunately, situations occur in which young people are charged with criminal offenses such as possession of marijuana, cocaine possession, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, criminal mischief, trespassing, assault, and other crimes that force them into the Juvenile Court System. When these difficult scenarios occur, it is critical to have an experienced juvenile defense attorney protecting the rights of the minor and working toward the best possible result.
If your child has been charged with a juvenile criminal offense in New Jersey, the experienced juvenile lawyers at The Tormey Law Firm can help. Our attorneys defend minors in Family Court in Morris County and throughout New Jersey regularly and we are committed to protecting your child’s future from the detrimental effects of juvenile charges. Contact our firm anytime for an absolutely free and confidential consultation about your child’s juvenile case.
NJ Juvenile Justice Process
How a Juvenile Enters the Criminal Court System
A young person enters the JJC system through a complaint process. The complaint charges the minor with a delinquent act. These delinquent acts would be considered a crime if an adult engaged in this type of activity.
Law enforcement can, and often does, take a juvenile into custody when he or she believes that a delinquent act has occurred. In addition to signing a delinquency complaint, an officer can also:
- Release the juvenile to his or her parents or guardians with a warning or reprimand
- Conduct a station house adjustment
The minor will be held in a secure detention facility in some cases. The officer must make a referral to court intake services for this type of admission to take place. The juvenile can also start the juvenile court process through non-law enforcement complaint or through a family crisis intervention unit referral. Family crisis intervention units (JFCIUs) divert specific problems away from the court. These specifically deal with family issues, including problems associated with:
- Serious family conflict
JFCIUs provide crisis intervention services right away to try to stabilize the family situation. The JFCIU may also refer the family to other available community agencies as well.
Court Jurisdiction in NJ Juvenile Cases
The Family Court has jurisdiction over juvenile delinquency cases. However, a juvenile can also be waived into adult court as well. It is more likely that the minor will be treated as an adult if the delinquent act alleged is particularly violent, such as armed robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault with a weapon, manslaughter, or aggravated sexual assault.
Unlike the adult criminal justice system, minors charged with crimes in New Jersey generally appear in the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county where they live, not the county where the alleged offense occurred. In other words, if your child is charged with a juvenile offense in Hackensack but you live in Parsippany, their juvenile case will be heard in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, NJ.
Possible Outcomes of a Juvenile Court Case in New Jersey
The next step in the JJC process is to determine whether a minor will be detained before their Family Court hearing. After that, the court will determine the “disposition” of this case. Disposition is another word for the result of a juvenile case. Assuming the charges are not dismissed, additional options for disposition may include:
- Community-based services
- Out-of-home services for child behavioral health
- Substance abuse treatment
- Incarceration in a juvenile detention center
The court may also use a “deferred disposition” to resolve a juvenile matter. This option allows the juvenile to avoid being adjudicated delinquent (same as a conviction for an adult) as long as he or she complies with certain conditions. It’s designed to be a second chance for a minor. The youth can avoid going to court and jail, paying fines, and having a criminal record. A deferred disposition is similar to a diversionary program for an adult, with terms of probation that ultimately prevent a juvenile charge from tarnishing the child’s record.
Juvenile Facing Charges in Morris County, New Jersey
If your child has been accused of a crime, navigating the juvenile justice system can be confusing and overwhelming for you and your family. Get legal help by calling the Morristown criminal defense team at The Tormey Law Firm. We have successfully defended countless juveniles in Family Court and adult court in New Jersey and we are fully prepared to present your child’s case in a way that will minimize the impact on his or her future.