“Juveniles” in New Jersey

The last thing a parent wishes for their child is to have a criminal record follow them through life. Unfortunately, many adolescents find themselves facing the consequences of being caught in the criminal justice system. In fact, in 2014, the National Center for Juvenile Justice reported that there are 67,776 juveniles in residential placement including detention centers, boot camps and juvenile rehabilitation halls in both public and private facilities. New Jersey alone has 604 adolescents in the state’s juvenile system according to a recent report from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Out of those 604 teenagers, 328 of them are committed for various offenses, including:

  • Larceny-Theft or Shoplifting
  • Drug Possession & Sale
  • Violent or Sexual Assault
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Weapons Offenses
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Burglary

Regardless of the offense, every teenager who enters the juvenile criminal justice system risks losing his or her chance in securing a bright and successful future. At Daniel M. Rosenberg & Associates, we make it our goal to prevent this from happening to your child.

New Jersey’s Juvenile Criminal Justice System

Criminal conduct by juveniles in New Jersey is treated much differently by the court. Juvenile proceedings in New Jersey are not criminal prosecutions, but are exercises of the State’s parens patriae jurisdiction in the interests of the juveniles. They are not governed in the Superior Court, Law Division-Criminal Part like adult matters.  Rather, they are held in the Superior Court, Family Part.

The principal objective of the State’s process for addressing juvenile crimes is protective rather than punitive.  This objective is not unique to New Jersey, but rather is a nationwide concern.  The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention maintains detailed records and statistics to help improve the juvenile justice system across the United States. Courts invoke education and treatment services to achieve reformation and rehabilitation of a juvenile criminal offender.  As a former Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor, Daniel Rosenberg of Daniel M. Rosenberg & Associates has extensive experience in juvenile matters and will seek to assist and guide the prosecutor and Judge to reach a resolution that meets that end.

Individuals under the age of eighteen (18) are deemed “Juveniles” in New Jersey and are treated much differently than adults.  The goal of the Juvenile Justice System is to rehabilitate juveniles, as opposed to punish them and Daniel M. Rosenberg & Associates seeks to ensure your child receives the best possible opportunities to embrace that rehabilitation.

Juvenile Crimes Are Not Convictions

Since the goal of the court system is to rehabilitate juveniles, they are treated much differently by the Courts.  For starters, juvenile cases are not handled in the Superior Court, Law Division-Criminal Part where adult criminal matters are heard.  Juvenile cases are heard in the Superior Court, Chancery Division-Family Part.  They are also not charged with committing a “crime” on a criminal “complaint”.  Rather, they are charged with an act of “delinquency” on a “Complaint of Juvenile Delinquency.”  Delinquency in New Jersey is defined as an act by a juvenile under the age of 18 that if committed by an adult would constitute a crime, a disorderly persons offense, a petty disorderly persons offense, or a violation of any other penal statute, ordinance or regulation.

For instance, an adult is charged with the Crime of Burglary, Third Degree.  A juvenile is charged with “the act of Burglary, which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime of the third degree.”  Therefore, juveniles are not “convicted,” but rather are an “adjudicated delinquent.”  In addition to terminology, consequences for juvenile matters differ considerably from criminal penalties. There are a number of social rehabilitation programs, probation options such as JISP and treatment programs available. Besides rehabilitation and probation, the court may decide to resolve the case by enforcing fines or community service, sending the offender to counseling, or requiring the juvenile to wear a device that monitors their location. In addition, the juvenile court has the authority to order house or juvenile confinement, remove the child from his or her home, terminate parental rights and place the child with someone other than their parent or guardian as part of their disposition order. If your son or daughter has been charged with an act of delinquency in Burlington County, the Law Office of Daniel M. Rosenberg can ensure they receive the proper justice they deserve.

Juvenile Probation in New Jersey

Juvenile probation is intended to meet the main goals of reformation and rehabilitation.  To that end, the Juvenile Court may place the juvenile on probation for a period not to exceed three (3) years upon such written conditions as the court deems will “aid rehabilitation of the juvenile.”  N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(3)(emphasis added).  “By granting the court a vast amount of flexibility in setting conditions of probation, N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(3) allows the court to construct requirements designed to secure appropriate behavior from the juvenile while obtaining the individualized rehabilitative and therapeutic help needed by the particular child.”  State ex rel. C.V., 201 N.J. 281, 297 (2010).  Rehabilitation is the touchstone of Juvenile probation.  As a result, the Juvenile Justice Commission has created various programs to aid in rehabilitation.  Some of those programs include special needs services and prevention and early intervention programs.

Juvenile Incarceration & Prison Time

Juveniles are sentenced according to the Juvenile Justice Code (“JJC”) with the goal and intent to rehabilitate the juvenile. In some cases, incarceration is required.  The JJC provides for specific terms of incarceration for different grades of offenses. A judge may commit the juvenile to the custody of the Juvenile Justice Commission, which shall provide for their placement in a suitable facility for terms not to exceed the following maximum terms for what would constitute the following crimes if committed by an adult:

(a) Murder under 2C:11-3a(1) or (2)……………………………..20 years
(b) Murder under 2C:11-3a(3)……………………………………..10 years
(c) Crime of the first degree, except murder……………………4 years
(d) Crime of the second degree……………………………………..3 years
(e) Crime of the third degree………………………………………..2 years
(f) Crime of the fourth degree………………………………………..1 year
(g) Disorderly persons offense…………………………………..6 months

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

In making this determination, the juvenile judge must consider aggravating and mitigating factors. For instance, an aggravating factor considered is the fact that the nature and circumstances of the act, and the role of the juvenile therein, was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner.  Some mitigating factors considered are:

(a) The child is under the age of 14;
(b) The juvenile’s conduct neither caused nor threatened serious harm;
(c) The juvenile did not contemplate that the juvenile’s conduct would cause or threaten serious harm; or
(d) The juvenile acted under a strong provocation.

Many factors are taken into consideration when determining an appropriate juvenile disposition.  An experienced Burlington County Juvenile Lawyer will be able to bring all favorable factors to the attention of the juvenile judge and prosecutor.

Our team at Daniel M. Rosenberg & Associates in Burlington County provides consultation for Criminal Defense, Juvenile Defense, theft crimes defense, assault crimes defense, drug crimes defense, sex crimes attorneys, and more.