Juvenile Defense Lawyers in New Jersey
Juvenile Defense Lawyers in New Jersey
A parent who gets a call from the police because their child has been arrested for a juvenile criminal offense can feel overwhelmed. Nevertheless, it’s critical to act quickly to protect your child’s rights, their freedom and their future.
The best method for protecting your minor child who was arrested is to immediately engage a juvenile crime defense lawyer with experience in New Jersey criminal and disorderly persons charges. The attorneys of Spodek Law Group have extensive experience with juvenile cases and intimate knowledge of New Jersey juvenile legislation.
We Represent a Full Range of Juvenile Charges
If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, it is crucial hat you secure an attorney who has extensive knowledge of New Jersey juvenile law. Do not let your child to answer questions or get interviewed by police or investigators until an attorney is present.
Spodek Law Group works for children accused of a wide range of crimes, including:
- Theft offenses, including shoplifting, robbery, auto theft, burglary, vandalism
- DUI/DWI and underage drinking
- Sex Offenses, including sexual assault, rape, statutory rape
- Drug possession and/or distribution
- Crimes of assault and threat
- Traffic offenses
- Internet-based offenses
- Underage gambling
- Disorderly conduct
Juveniles facing charges go to Family Court first. They must be represented by an attorney. There is no way for the parent or guardian to permit proceedings to go forward without a defense attorney.
Our firm can move quickly to present appropriate information to the court and address any concerns of the Family Court and presiding judge to help ensure that your child is not unduly detained.
For children whose families can’t hire an attorney to represent their child due to demonstrable indigence, a public defender is appointed. That said, a consultation with an experienced juvenile defense attorney from Spodek Law Group is always free. Take advantage of this opportunity if your child is looking at serious criminal charges. We want to assist you.
What Takes Place during a Juvenile Case in New Jersey?
When parents whose children have been arrested contact us, it is often the family’s first brush with the law. We totally understand. No one expects a parent to know what to do when their child gets arrested.
What is the New Jersey Court’s Intentions for My Child?
Juvenile matters in New Jersey involve alleged offenders under the age of 18, and begin in Family Court. Cases involving serious offenses, such as armed robbery, may prompt a prosecutor to ask the court to move the case to adult criminal court.
For starters, you should know that the State of New Jersey would rather help your child than punish him or her. We also want to make certain that every decision made in the following days is to the benefit of your child and your family.
At Spodek Law Group, we want to make sure that every decision made in the days ahead is to the benefit of your child and your family.
The philosophy of the New Jersey Family Court regarding children is focused on reform, including:
- Keeping the family as intact as possible for the care, development and protection of children coming under the Court’s jurisdiction
- Removing children who exhibit delinquent criminal behavior and placing them in a program of supervision, care and rehabilitation
- Getting the care, guidance and control, preferably in their own home, necessary for children coming under the jurisdiction of the court
- Catering for the protection of the community, accountability for criminal conduct, and development of children into productive and responsible citizens
Could My Child Be Detained?
After multiple arrests, the Court will hold a child in a juvenile detention facility until he or she can be thoroughly evaluated. The court must decide whether the youth is a risk to the community or is equipped to return home, to school and their community.
Each county in New Jersey has a juvenile detention facility for kids who were arrested and detained. The facilities are called Juvenile Detention Centers or Youth Detention Centers.
Your child will never be detained in a jail or prison where adults are held.
The law mandates that the Court can only detain New Jersey juveniles if they are considered a menace to the community or if they are considered a risk not to appear in court. When deciding whether or not to detain a child, the Court will consider:
- The seriousness of the alleged offense
- Any prior criminal history
- The child’s medical or psychological issues
- Details provided by police, parents and other parties regarding the child’s problems
- Any other relevant information regarding the child’s safety to himself or others.
Some children are detained post-disposition (post-sentencing) while awaiting program placement. Several counties have additionally developed a short-term commitment program, which serves as a sentencing option.
If a juvenile is referred to detention upon arrest, a hearing must be held within 24 hours. If a juvenile is remanded to detention at that hearing, the initial probable cause hearing and a second detention hearing must be held within two court days. Should probable cause not be found, the child gets released from detention pending an appearance before a judge.
A judge will reconsider the status of a detained child at intervals of 14 and 21 court days.
Pursuant to New Jersey law, the Court can modify a juvenile’s sentence at any point, including in response to motions and applications for post-disposition relief made by the child’s lawyer on his or her behalf.
Will my Child Have to Appear in Court?
In some cases, they will. Juvenile cases are heard in the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, otherwise known as Family Court. The Juvenile Part of the Family Division is conducted in accordance with a set of rules designed specifically for adjudication of juvenile matters. The goals of the system are to help, assist and rehabilitate a child with constructive solutions rather than punitive ones.
Adjudicator hearings are heard in a closed court. Only the individuals involved in the case (including parents or guardians) are allowed to attend. Any records associated with juvenile matters are confidential. This includes all social, medical, psychological, legal, probation, and law enforcement records.
The juvenile justice system has the authority to impose most of the same penalties as the criminal court where adults are tried. Certain statutory offenses carry specific consequences required by law. New Jersey’s Juvenile Code provides judges a wide swath of possible dispositions in juvenile cases, and the disposition most frequently handed down is probation supervision.
A juvenile on probation is often ordered to perform community service or remit financial restitution to the crime victim. Conditions of probation could additionally include attending counseling or entering a residential program.
Under What Circumstances Could my Child be Charged as an Adult?
In certain cases involving juveniles aged 15-17; the New Jersey prosecutor may seek a waiver to have them tried in adult court if the child is looking at a serious offense. Juveniles 14 years or older can elect to have their cases waived to adult court. Children under 14 years of age can never be charged as adults, regardless of the charge.
If a waiver is approved, the juvenile is handled in the same manner as an adult. The juvenile can even be held in an adult jail and, if found guilty, is subject to the same sentencing as adults. For children sentenced to a prison term, the sentence is sometimes served in an adult prison, but in some instances, they may go to a juvenile facility.
Charges that can be referred to adult court proceedings include but are not limited to:
- Criminal homicide (except for death by automobile)
- Robbery – First Degree
- Sexual assault
- Kidnapping charges
- Aggravated arson
- Possessing a firearm with intent to use it unlawfully against another person
- Heading a narcotics trafficking network
- Maintaining and conducting an illicit drug production facility
Are There Diversionary Programs Available for Juveniles?
Opportunities for criminal charges against a juvenile to be “diverted” and not result in punishment handed down by a judge abound. Instead of signing a delinquency complaint, the arresting police official can release the juvenile to a responsible parent or guardian (with or without a reprimand and warning) or carry out a “station house adjustment.”
A station house adjustment is a formal warning given in minor crimes with the consent of the victim. The child must agree not to reoffend and the parent or guardian is advised that if the juvenile commits a subsequent offense or fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, a juvenile delinquency complaint can be filed against the juvenile. Both the juvenile and a parent or guardian need to sign a station house adjustment form.
Once a delinquency complaint has been signed and filed with the court, Juvenile Conference Committees (JCCs) and Intake Service Conferences (ISCs) review certain categories of first and second offenses of a minor nature to determine if diversion is appropriate.
The committees’ recommendations to a Family Court judge can prompt the judge to hand down a disposition of probation, which might include various restrictions and requirements to participate in rehabilitative programs. New Jersey’s Juvenile Justice Commission has a wide array of educational programs, day programs, specialized mental health services, residential facilities, secure care facilities, and transitional and re-entry services for kids and youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
When juvenile charges don’t go through the JCC or ISC process, an experienced attorney representing a juvenile client with a clean record can convince the judge that a disposition of probation that potentially includes entry into a fitting program is in their young client’s best interests.
Juveniles between ages 15-17 being tried in adult court for a first-time nonviolent offense may be allowed to enter Pretrial Intervention (PTI) or Drug Court as appropriate, close-supervision probation programs targeted to defendants who are ready to deal with substance abuse problems. If the young person completes all stages of the intervention program, their charges can be dismissed.
Underage DUI in New Jersey
A person under 21 years old can be found guilty of driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI) in New Jersey with any detectible amount of alcohol in their blood while behind the wheel or otherwise in control of a vehicle. An underage driver whose BAC is .08% or higher will be charged as an adult, which means they will face much harsher penalties.
If convicted, the license gets suspended for 30 to 90 days, at a judge’s discretion. If an unlicensed teenager is convicted, he or she would be unable to get a license for at least 30 to 90 days.
A person who is convicted of underage DWI in New Jersey must also perform community service, take classes, and attend treatment if recommended. Youths convicted of underage DWI/DUI who also refuse a breathalyzer test will face a range of penalties also, including fees, program attendance requirements, ignition interlock and license suspension.
Spodek Law Group Will Fight for Your Child’s Interests
As your child’s defense lawyers, our first job will be to help secure your child’s release or ensure he or she is properly detained if that option is in your family’s best interests.
We immediately begin investigating the charges against your child, including finding out whether there was police or prosecutorial misconduct and flaws in the prosecution’s case.
This could include such details as:
- Illegal arrest, and failure to read Miranda rights
- Illegal search and seizure, stopping a motor vehicle with no probable cause
- Faulty suspect lineup
- Mistaken identity
- Profiling based on racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, sexual orientation, age or other bias
- Failure to present credible witnesses
- Faulty or inaccurate testimony
- Faulty forensic testing (specifically regarding DNA evidence or breathalyzer testing)
It is common after an investigation to discover reasons to have juvenile offense charges lowered or dropped. In alcohol- and drug-related cases associated with teenage parties or other large gatherings, for example, the facts of the case can be unclear. In matters involving theft, simple assault and other interpersonal disputes, we might be able to reach out to the alleged victims (and sometimes their parents) to make amends and restitution, which makes it possible to get charges dropped
If we are not able to have disorderly conduct charges against your child dropped, we will stand up for your child in Family Court to seek the best resolution available. If a guilty verdict is can’t be avoided, you child could be eligible for probation.
Sealing Juvenile Records in New Jersey
New Jersey juvenile records include the court and police paperwork related to the juvenile’s arrest, complaint and disposition of the case. When a juvenile record gets sealed, it means that the court and police paperwork related to the case are closed. No one is permitted to look at them without a special court order.
In numerous cases, only police, prosecutors, probation officers, judges, and court employees may access a juvenile’s record. Nonetheless, a juvenile’s record could be made available to the public if they were adjudicated for a crime of the first, second, or third degree; aggravated assault; or destruction or damage to property worth more than $500.
A juvenile offender can petition the Court to get their record sealed if:
- Two years have gone by since the last court order in the case (with no supervision/probation or state custody) or two years have gone by since they were released from supervision/probation or state custody.
- The petitioner was not convicted of any crimes or disorderly persons offenses or adjudicated delinquent in the two years prior to filing their request.
Once a juvenile record is sealed, it might be unsealed if the individual is later adjudicated of another juvenile offense or convicted of a crime.
After a juvenile’s record is sealed, the individual may behave as though the offense never happened. There will be no requirement to acknowledge the contents of the juvenile record on job applications or interviews, for college, technical school, or trade programs or when applying for housing later in life.
Our team can help you round up all the necessary material and make sure that you submit a complete and accurate petition for sealing your juvenile records.
Meet with Your New Jersey Juvenile Crime Defense Attorney
If you minor child has been charged with a crime in the State of New Jersey, reach out to Spodek Law Group to speak to an experienced juvenile crimes defense lawyer as quickly as possible. There are options our dedicated attorneys can exercise to keep a criminal a conviction off of your child’s your record. Call us today for your free consultation.