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Juvenile Offenses

We have successfully defended our clients against thousands of Criminal, DWI, and Municipal Court charges throughout Hudson County and New Jersey.

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Juvenile Lawyer in Jersey City, NJ

The New Jersey juvenile court system is set up a run through the County Prosecutor’s Office. Unlike adult crimes, juvenile charges are normally heard in the Superior Court where the juvenile lives, not where the offense necessarily took place. Juveniles will appear before a Superior Court Judge in the Family Division. It should be noted, in contrast to the adult system, juvenile delinquency focuses more on rehabilitation of young offenders rather than punishment. Courts want to try and take the opportunity to reform young offenders whenever possible, and them give them a second chance. This by no means should give you the impression that juvenile charges should be taken lightly. Any contact your child has with the juvenile system can be emotionally traumatic as well as damaging to their education and employment opportunities in the future. Just like adult charges, a conviction will result in a permanent record and furthermore, there is the very real threat of incarceration for repeat offenders or serious offenses, such as Armed Robbery or Aggravated Assault. Therefore if your son or daughter has been charged with Possession of Drugs, Theft, Trespassing, Criminal Mischief, Underage Drinking, Possession of a Fake ID, or Unlawful Possession of a Firearm it is essential that you hire an experienced juvenile lawyer to defend their interests. The founding attorney, William A. Proetta, Esq., has extensive hands-on knowledge of the juvenile justice system from defending juveniles over the years. At Proetta & Oliver, in Jersey City, New Jersey we are experienced in handling all kinds of juvenile delinquency cases. If you would like to speak with a juvenile defense lawyer regarding your child’s charges contact our office for a free initial consultation at (201) 793-8018.

Understanding the Juvenile Court System in New Jersey

If your son or daughter has been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, it is important that you know the facts and what to expect when navigating the Juvenile Justice System. A juvenile case begins when a minor, meaning a person under the age of 18, is taken into custody for an offense that would be considered a “crime” if committed by an adult. Juveniles are not technically arrested, but “taken into custody” by police. There are a few things that can happen at this point, including a stationhouse adjustment or criminal charges being filed. If the young person is charged with a criminal offense, the matter will typically be referred to the Family Court in the County in which the child resides or is otherwise considered their county of original residence.

Stationhouse Adjustments

If your child is fortunate enough to gain favor with the police or it is considered to be a minor infraction, they may be given a stationhouse adjustment. If this occurs, they will not go to court. Stationhouse adjustments allow early police intervention with the intention of diverting the case from court. Instead of a delinquency action being filed, the police may have the minor do community service, repay a victim for any losses (restitution), or perform other measures designed to deter future acts of delinquency. Schools and police stations partner together, attempting to keep children out of the system without filing complaints with the juvenile court. However, sometimes a station house adjustment is not available or permissible and a criminal complaint is filed.

Juveniles Charged with Criminal Offenses

Once a criminal complaint is filed, it is sent to the County Prosecutor’s Office to be reviewed. Juvenile charges are normally brought in the county where the juvenile resides with his parents or guardians, rather than where the offense occurred. In certain instances, such as a case involving co-defendants from different counties, a judge may grant a motion to transfer the case to the county of the offense. Under other circumstances, typically when the juvenile is near the age of 18 and/or when they are charged with a very serious crime, the Prosecutor’s Office will submit a motion that the juvenile be tried as an adult. If the motion is granted, the juvenile case will be transferred to adult criminal court where all of the rules and penalties adult criminal defendants face apply.

Juvenile Court Rules and Standards

In juvenile court, many rules regarding trial and sentencing are different from adult courts. A juvenile criminal defendant is not entitled to a trial by jury in New Jersey. Juvenile court cases are decided by the presiding juvenile judge in Family Court. If a juvenile is found guilty, they are “adjudicated delinquent” which is the equivalent of a conviction in adult court. During sentencing, the Judge’s priority is to promote the rehabilitation and reform of the young person. The overarching standard in New Jersey Juvenile Court is the best interests of the child. As such, there are a variety of sentencing alternatives available to juvenile defendants, including support services, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and release to their parent or guardian. However, there are many other serious consequences that juveniles face if they are found guilty, some of which include: restitution and fines, community service, probation, driver’s license suspension, and juvenile detention. An experienced NJ juvenile attorney can argue aggressively in favor of the juvenile’s innocence and work toward mitigating these potential penalties.

Jersey City Juvenile Defense Attorney

When you are trying to find the right lawyer dedicated to representing juveniles who might otherwise be trampled upon, you’ve come to the right place. As a knowledgeable New Jersey juvenile defense lawyer, William A. Proetta, Esq., is able to resolve the vast majority of cases successfully without going to trial, and helps avoid any further strain and stress so your family can move on and get back to their normal lives. On the other hand, if your son or daughter or another young person you love has been wrongfully accused of shoplifting, marijuana possession, drug distribution, vandalism, underage DWI, or another offense, our lawyers will not back down. We understand the stress caused by having a child arrested and facing criminal charges. Our goal is to achieve the best possible result for your child so he or she can look forward to the future. Along the way, we will explain every step of the process and all of your options so you understand what to expect and can be part of the decision-making process. Learn more about the specific charge and penalties your child is facing and take the initiative by contacting us today. If you would like to speak with a Hudson County juvenile defense attorney, call (201) 793-8018 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation.