The juvenile court system in New Jersey has a number of nuances that are provided as opportunities for minors who would otherwise enter the criminal justice system. The Juvenile Conference Committee (JCC) is one such alternative venue for juvenile cases. The Committee will hear cases that do not go to the Superior Court, Family Division. Without this Committee, most cases involving minors could go straight to a Juvenile Judge. Instead, the Juvenile Conference Committee operates as a separate division of the Superior Court in every county in New Jersey.
Juveniles accused of minor offenses, who have either never been accused of a prior crime or they have one other conviction, may have the opportunity to go through the JCC instead of seeing a Juvenile Judge. Minor offenses (known as disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses) will generally include things like disorderly conduct, shoplifting (petty theft), trespassing, and criminal mischief.
What is a Juvenile Conference Committee in New Jersey?
The JCC includes six to nine citizens who volunteer to serve on the panel. They are appointed by the local Family Division Judge. These individuals will hear and decide matters involving juveniles who have been charged with committing criminal offenses. Each volunteer must go through training to sit as a member of the JCC in New Jersey.
If a juvenile is assigned to see the JCC, he or she will receive a notice in the mail for a conference. The notice will be addressed to the minor and his or her parents or guardians. The notice may also request that you bring specific information, including medical records and school reports. The victim or individual who complained about the minor’s actions will also be invited to attend. The parents or guardians and the alleged victim, if any, will also be invited to discuss the offense and related issues with the Committee. All JCC proceedings are confidential. That means that everything the minor (and the parents, guardians, and victims) says will be kept private.
Once the Committee has heard the evidence and charges, it will consider the facts presented to it, and make recommendations to a judge for a resolution. The JCC will consider all aspects of the juvenile’s life in deciding what type of resolution is appropriate for the situation.
What are the Possible Outcomes of a Juvenile Conference in NJ?
The focus of a Juvenile Conference Committee is on the rehabilitation of the minor. Any resolution will have the best interests of the child in mind—with an eye toward personal development and growth. In many situations, possible recommendations will include things like performing volunteer work, paying back any victim for damages or losses (fines), or mental health counseling. Creating apology letters or writing essays regarding the minor’s actions may also be potential punishments as well.
By law, a Juvenile Conference Committee is required to consider the following in all of its processes and in creating a resolution:
- Providing balanced attention to the protection of the community;
- The imposition of accountability for offenses committed;
- Fostering interaction and dialogue between the offender, the victim, and the community as a whole; and
- Development of competencies to help the minor become a responsible and productive member in the community.
One of the primary focuses of the JCC is to prevent future misconduct, which may include following up with the juvenile in the future as well.
Have a Juvenile Conference Committee Date?
Working through the JCC is generally beneficial for a minor when dealing with allegations of juvenile misconduct in New Jersey. However, it is a good idea to have an attorney who has experience with his unique process in order to ensure the best possible result for your child. An experienced New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer will be able to craft a resolution that will be acceptable to the JCC and provide the most benefit for the juvenile involved to prevent permanent damage for the young person’s future. The attorneys at our firm provide this type of assistance for juveniles charged with offenses in Morris County and throughout New Jersey. Learn more about how we can help you by contacting our team at (908) 336-5008 or filling out an online form. We provide free consultations.