Facing charges as a juvenile is not like being charged as an adult. Everything from what happens after the arrest to how the trial goes through court is different. To be classified as a juvenile, one must be under the age of 18.
Being charged as a juvenile can be scary. As a parent, you will want to get your child the best attorney possible to make sure that they have a good chance of getting their charges dropped or downgraded. New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin has years of experience helping juveniles and their families. Read on to learn about what exactly it means to be tried as a juvenile and how an attorney can help.
Definition of Juvenile Delinquency
New Jersey law code 2A:4A-23 defines juvenile delinquency as the following: “delinquency means the commission of an act by a juvenile which if committed by an adult would constitute as: a) a crime; b) a disorderly persons offense or pretty disorderly persons offense; or c) a violation of any other penal statute, ordinance, or regulation.” This basically means anything someone under 18 does that, if done as an adult, it would have been a crime or violation and can be put up for trial.
After the Arrest
When a juvenile commits a crime, they are not technically “arrested” in the state of New Jersey. Instead, the juvenile is “taken into custody.” From there, law enforcement files a criminal complaint and notifies the parents or guardians right away. In certain circumstances, law enforcement may not file a complaint. If it is a first-time offense or a minor offense, often the police simply hold a meeting with the juvenile and their family. The juvenile could be sentenced to community service or to apologize to the victim, but their case will not actually go to trial. If the juvenile is in custody, it is only to protect the health and wellbeing of the juvenile and others involved.
Court Trial Process
The juvenile’s case is always in family court. They will not have a trial with a jury as an adult would. If the juvenile remains in custody, the initial hearing must occur no later than the following morning. Both the juvenile and their parents/guardians will be present at this hearing. This hearing often leads to the juvenile’s release. If this hearing determines that the juvenile should be detained, a second hearing will occur within 2 days. At this hearing, the juvenile will either be released or continue to be detained. If they are detained, a review is required within 14 days of the hearing. If the juvenile will be placed in a juvenile detention facility, the court considers factors like age and prior record before making the decision.
Sentencing is also different when it comes to juveniles. The court is often a lot more flexible with sentencing options than they are with adults. There are a variety of different outcomes that can occur after the case. While some will have to go to juvenile detention, there are other options. These include community service, probation, a substance abuse program, mental health counseling, or suspending the teen’s driver’s license. The court’s goal is to fully consider the juvenile and their past and determine a consequence that will help them learn their lesson without further setting them back.
Facing Adult Charges As A Juvenile
In some cases, a juvenile can face adult charges. This usually occurs when they have committed a violent crime or if they have a prior criminal charge on their background. For example, a drunk in public charge will not constitute adult charges. However, committing criminal homicide will. In addition, the juvenile must be at least 15 to face charges as an adult. Before determining whether to try a juvenile as an adult, the court considers many things. This includes prior criminal history, potential danger to the public, and the maturity level of the teen. If the juvenile faces trial as an adult, they can receive all the same adult penalties, except for life in prison without parole.
Just because you committed a crime at 15 doesn’t mean it will stay with you on your permanent record. Many people charged as juveniles have their records expunged and successfully move on past their crime. Depending on the crime, the juvenile will have to wait anywhere from 1-10 years before beginning the expungement process.
How Can an Attorney Help?
If your child has been charged with a crime, it is crucial that you get an attorney. New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin truly has your child’s best interests in mind. He will carefully analyze the case, as well as your child’s background, to create a defense that can be used in court. In addition, he will help sway judges to impose penalties like community service or substance abuse programs as opposed to juvenile detention.
Leon can also help with the record expungement process if you have a juvenile crime on your permanent record. There can be complications with juvenile charges, trials, and sentencing. As a parent, don’t feel like you have to be well-versed in New Jersey juvenile laws. This is where your attorney comes in and helps put your mind at ease.
Contact a New Jersey Attorney For Help with Juvenile Charges
Facing charges and custody as a juvenile can be very scary. Often juveniles and parents/guardians see the future flash in front of them. They worry that things like graduating high school or attending college are no longer options. Luckily, with an experienced New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin, you don’t have to worry. He has years of experience working with juveniles to have their charges downgraded and sometimes even dismissed. He can also have juvenile records expunged so that there is no trace of the juvenile criminal record. If your child faces charges, don’t wait another minute. Call Leon Matchin today at 732-887-2479, or contact him via email at [email protected].