Crimes can be committed by people of any age. When a crime is committed, the consequences may vary depending on the individual’s age and the crime they commit. Children sometimes break the law as well. When this happens, it is known as juvenile delinquency. Juvenile delinquency cases may include committing a crime, a disorderly persons offense, a petty disorderly persons offense, or a violation of a penal statute, ordinance or regulation.
In the state of New Jersey, all juvenile offenders are required to have legal representation. A parent or guardian must retain these services in the event of a juvenile case. If they cannot afford an attorney, a public defender may be appointed to the child’s case.
The goal of the court when dealing with juvenile matters is to hold the child accountable for their actions and rehabilitate them. When the child appears in court, their defense will be provided with a copy of the complaint, detailing the accusation. The judge works to determine whether or not the child is guilty of the crime they are accused of. Depending on the offense, the child may be taken into the custody of a juvenile facility.
The decision that is made is based on the circumstances surrounding the offense as well as the child’s age and if they have a prior record. These cases are handled in one of the following ways:
- Juvenile Conference Committee or Intake Services Conference: The child and their parent discuss the offense with a trained volunteer panel that is appointed by the court, or a Judiciary staff person. While consequence recommendations are made here and forwarded to a judge for approval, this does not determine delinquency.
- Juvenile referee/Informal court: A referee conducts a hearing in which the child is expected to admit or deny the complaint against them. The facts will be assessed by the referee to determine if delinquency if it is necessary. They make recommendations to the judge for approval. It is important to know that the child’s defense can disagree with the findings before they are presented to the judge
- Judge/Formal court: A judge oversees the court hearing where the child will plead guilty or not guilty. The court may order any consequence to help the child rehabilitate
What Consequences Can be Imposed on a Child?
There are various types of consequences that a child may meet if they are found guilty of breaking the law. This may include but is not limited to:
- Community service
- Release to a parent or guardian
- Required support services or parental involvement
- Residential mental health and/or substance abuse and alcohol treatment
- Transfer of custody
- Secure confinement/incarceration
- Suspended driver’s license
- Work, outdoor, academic, and/or vocational programs
Contact our Firm
If you or someone you know is involved in a juvenile delinquency case, contact The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway today.