New Jersey Juvenile Crimes Lawyers
Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer Represents Clients Charged with Juvenile Crimes in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Bergen County and Somerset County, NJ
The mere fact that your child committed a crime as a minor under the age of 18 does not mean that the matter shouldn’t be taken extremely seriously. While it is true that the New Jersey juvenile criminal justice system is more highly focused on rehabilitation, rather than punishment, juvenile crimes can carry significant penalties that include jail time, monetary fines and the risk of a criminal record. In fact, juveniles can even be tried as adults when the court deems it appropriate, such as in cases involving violent crimes or serious damage to property. Because the risk that the juvenile will continue a pattern of criminal behavior after completing their punishment is so high, the New Jersey courts and law enforcement take juvenile crimes extremely seriously—and so should you.
In juvenile criminal matters, it is usually required that the juvenile be represented by legal counsel unless the matter is a very minor case that has been referred to a committee for resolution. Because of the risks of recidivism and the potential that your child’s case could be tried in adult court, it is critical to retain a lawyer with broad knowledge of the juvenile system.
At Zegas Law, we have been advocating for clients in the New Jersey courts for years and we thoroughly understand the separate legal process that is applied in juvenile crimes cases in New Jersey. Our founding attorney, Alan L. Zegas, has received an AV rating—which is the highest rating available through the Martindale-Hubbell legal ranking system—for over two decades, demonstrating the wealth of experience our lawyers bring to the table. We will fight to counter any argument by the prosecution that your child should be tried as an adult and stand by your side through the entire juvenile adjudication process. If you or your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, call or contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation.
Differentiating Between Juvenile Crimes and Adult Crimes
The New Jersey juvenile justice system treats juvenile crimes differently than adult crimes in a number of very important ways. Understanding these differences can be key to avoiding surprises when charged with a juvenile crime. Some important differences include:
- Standard of proof. While adult criminal cases must be “proven” beyond a reasonable doubt, in cases involving juvenile crimes, the courts look to a “best interests of the child” standard in determining their recommended punishment.
- Trial by jury. Juvenile criminal cases are tried before a judge, and you have no right to a trial by jury as in adult cases.
- Relevant court. Cases involving juvenile crimes are heard in the county where the juvenile resides (rather than where the offense allegedly took place) and are generally heard by the family court.
- Sentencing. Most adult cases will result in jail time, probation and/or monetary fines. When a juvenile crime is involved, the judge has more discretion in sentencing. While a juvenile may be detained and fined, the judge may also order various forms of counseling, community service, work or educational programs, alcohol or drug treatment, written projects, driver’s license suspension and probation.
- Attorney requirement. While adults have the right to an attorney, in juvenile crimes cases, New Jersey mandates that the juvenile be represented by an attorney.
Dedicated Defense Lawyers at Zegas Law Vigorously Defend Juvenile Clients’ Rights in NJ
At Zegas Law, our experienced lawyers understand that any number of factors could have come into play and influenced your child’s decision to commit a criminal offense. Children and young adults experience life pressures differently than adults, which is why the New Jersey justice system operates differently at the juvenile level–maybe your child fell in with a group of friends that negatively influenced his or her decision making or maybe your child suffers from a disorder such as ADHD. We get to know you personally so that we can fully understand the circumstances surrounding the criminal offense and create the most compelling possible argument for rehabilitation, rather than detainment, in your case.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation for Advice in Your North Jersey Juvenile Criminal Matter Today
If you or your child are facing criminal charges as a juvenile, your lawyer’s experience and expertise in handling juvenile cases can be key to a successful outcome. When it comes to juvenile cases, we fight not only to minimize the potential consequences of the current offense, but we also keep the best interests of your child in mind and do everything that we can to protect his or her bright future. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case with an experienced North Jersey juvenile crimes lawyer, call us today or fill out this online contact form.
Frequently Asked Questions About Juvenile Crimes in New Jersey
FAQ: How does the judge determine whether a juvenile crime warrants imprisonment or some type of rehabilitative program?
The judge takes all relevant factors into consideration, including the severity of the crime and the age of the juvenile who committed the crime. Other important factors in determining punishment include the circumstances surrounding the offense, whether the juvenile has any past criminal record, whether the parents are actively and effectively involved in the child’s life, as well as any extenuating circumstances.
FAQ: When can my child be tried as an adult for a juvenile crime in New Jersey?
Juveniles can be treated as adults in the criminal justice system upon application of a “juvenile waiver”. If your child is at least 15 years old, he or she can be tried as an adult for particularly serious crimes, including sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, first-degree robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, aggravated arson, certain weapons offenses committed in conjunction with drug-related offenses and most homicide cases. Because the consequences of being tried as an adult, rather than as a juvenile, are significantly more severe, our lawyers always strongly advocate for your child’s case to be handled in the juvenile system.