Trenton Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Aggressively Defend Juvenile Crime Charges in Mercer County and Throughout New Jersey
Juvenile offenders can avoid severe penalties with the right legal representation and instead complete community service, rehabilitation, or other non-imprisonment alternatives. However, without proper legal guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney, juvenile crimes can have a serious impact on the rest of a young person’s life.
In the State of New Jersey, a person is tried as a juvenile if he or she is under the age of 18 at the time their offense was committed. Even if the juvenile turns 18 during a trial, they are still treated as a juvenile.
However, New Jersey judges have quite a wide discretion on how to handle juvenile cases. In very serious cases, such as murder or assault, it is possible for a judge to waive the juvenile up and try him or her as an adult. When this happens, a juvenile could face adult charges and be imprisoned.
If your child was arrested or is under investigation for a juvenile crime, you need to know how juvenile charges are handled in New Jersey. In fact, you should know that as a parent, you are required to hire a lawyer for your child; unless it is a minor matter that has already been referred to a Juvenile Conference Committee.
Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff, LLC has a legal team with years of experience that are skilled in handling juvenile crime cases. Contact our qualified Trenton Juvenile Crimes Lawyers today so we can discuss your child’s case.
Common Juvenile Offenses in New Jersey
Among the most common crimes juvenile are charged with in New Jersey are assault crimes, drug possession, underage DUI/DWI, and criminal mischief.
- Assault occurs when a juvenile attempts to hurt someone or causes bodily injury to another person. To be liable, the juvenile must have done it on purpose, with knowledge, or in a reckless manner. This includes attempts by the juvenile to put another person in fear of imminent and serious bodily injury. An example of this could include a case where a juvenile approaches another person and threatens to swing a bat at them, placing such person in imminent fear.
- Drug possession charges involve actual possession of an illegal substance. Remember that in the state of New Jersey, drug possession charges also include the use, being under the influence of, or the failure to dispose of controlled dangerous substances properly, except when the drugs were prescribed to you in a lawful way. One of the most common instances of juvenile drug possession arrest occurs when a juvenile is driving a car and is stopped for a traffic infraction, and after searching the vehicle, the arresting officer subsequently discovers that the juvenile has an illegal substance, like marijuana, in his car.
- Underage DUI/ DWI are relatively straightforward charges. New Jersey law clearly states that a juvenile who is driving, and then gets caught and subsequently tested to have blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01 or higher can be arrested for and charged with DUI/ DWI. The legal age for drinking in New Jersey is 21. Anyone under the age of 21 is a juvenile as far as the legal drinking age is concerned and is not allowed to drink alcohol.
- Criminal mischief happens when a juvenile causes damage to property on purpose. Many young people, during episodes of mischief and recklessness, vandalize the property of other people by spraying paint or other materials to deface a wall, gate, home, or vehicle. In some serious cases, youthful offenders set stores, homes, barns, buildings, trailers, or vehicles on fire. These are all considered criminal mischief offenses and fall under juvenile crimes.
If your child has been arrested or is being charged with a juvenile crime, it is something you should take seriously. However, getting arrested or being indicted does not necessarily mean that the court will find your child guilty. With effective and timely representation by the skilled and experienced legal team at Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff, LLC, there are a number of ways to avoid severe penalties or a finding of guilt. The New Jersey attorneys at Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff, LLC may be able to get your child into a diversionary, rehabilitation, or other treatment program instead of being sentenced to prison.
The Juvenile Justice System in New Jersey
The primary aim of the New Jersey juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate youth and foster in them a sense of responsibility and civic duty. Yet for young people who do get convicted, the consequences can be lasting.
Another issue surrounding juvenile crime cases involves recidivism – this is when a juvenile who has already been charged with a crime commits an offense again and slips back to their criminal behavior. A report prepared by the state of New Jersey shows that due to this issue, rehabilitation methods are not always favored over sentences aimed at punishing the juvenile offender and allowing them to face the consequences.
Statistics from the Office of the Attorney General and the Juvenile Justice Commission indicate that there are currently more than 350 juveniles who have been sentenced (and are either imprisoned or on probation) in the state of New Jersey. Of those sentenced, 192 are presently in aftercare programs. These programs are aimed at reintegrating juvenile offenders into mainstream society.
In New Jersey, the Juvenile Criminal Justice System differs from the Adult Criminal Justice System. The charges and the penalties upon conviction are different. However, the family court judge has wide discretion in sentencing a juvenile offender. For instance, instead of sending the youthful offender to prison, the judge has the option of imposing penalties that are aimed at rehabilitating the juvenile and preventing him or her from committing a crime again in the future. Excluding imprisonment, some of these penalties or consequences include but are not limited to:
- Adjourned disposition;
- Release of the juvenile to a parent or guardian;
- Work, academic, and/or vocational programs;
- Required parental involvement in the juvenile’s rehabilitation;
- Required community service;
- Diversionary program;
- Monetary fines;
- Suspension of a juvenile’s driver’s license;
- Period of probation;
- Treatment for mental health issues, substance abuse, and/or alcoholism;
- Restitution (requiring the juvenile to provide compensation for damage s/he caused;
The consequences that a juvenile has to face depend on whether or not it is a first-time offense and on how severe the charges are. There are certain crimes that have what is known as “mandatory dispositions”. This means that for some crimes, the court’s hands are tied and it must impose the mandated penalty. For example, some drug charges have mandatory dispositions.
Contact our Experienced New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyers to Discuss your Child’s Options Today
If you have a child who has been arrested or is facing juvenile charges anywhere in New Jersey, you need to hire an experienced juvenile charge defense attorney. Contact Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff, LLC today and we will work immediately to prepare your child’s defense and to protect your child’s rights.
Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) About Juvenile Crimes in New Jersey
If your child is only facing a minor matter that has already been referred to a Juvenile Conference Committee, you are no longer legally required as a parent to hire a lawyer. However, you may still need advice and guidance in handling the case. Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff, LLC has a legal team with years of experience and skill in handling juvenile criminal matters, and we’d be happy to provide a free consultation about your child’s case.
New Jersey courts require that a juvenile offender must have a lawyer in all formal court hearings before a judge. The state considers this part of the proceedings as a “counsel-mandatory or formal court hearing.” When you engage Kalavruzos, Mumola, Hartman, Lento & Duff, LLC, for a juvenile crime case, we ensure that your child’s best interests are ably and effectively represented during formal court hearings.