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Juvenile Delinquency

New Jersey Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys

In New Jersey, when a minor is charged with a crime, the case is typically handled by the family court, as opposed to the criminal court. Unlike criminal cases, juvenile cases are decided by a judge instead of a jury.

Although the criminal code applies for the purpose of determining whether the minor is "delinquent" or guilty of the crime charged, adult criminal sentences are not imposed. Rather, the court is empowered by the New Jersey Code of Juvenile Justice to fashion an age appropriate juvenile sentence or "disposition." In the case of serious juvenile crimes, however, the case can be referred to the criminal court where the minor will be treated as an adult offender regardless of age.

Contact the Newark criminal defense lawyers at Ehrlich, Petriello, Gudin & Plaza, Attorneys at Law to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney if your minor family member has been charged with a criminal offense including:

  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Drug crimes
  • Evading
  • False identification
  • Harassment
  • Resisting arrest
  • Robbery
  • Sex offenses
  • Shoplifting
  • Theft
  • Underage drinking
  • Vandalism

When it comes to young offenders, the law traditionally emphasizes rehabilitation over punitive measures. The hope is that through early intervention in the life of a youthful offender, the family courts can redirect juveniles in a positive direction and help them avoid future legal troubles and the more serious consequences of an adult criminal conviction. In the case of violent crimes and repeat offenders, the court can impose more serious penalties, including incarceration in a youth detention center.

Although the juvenile justice code is more responsive to the unique rehabilitative needs of minors than the adult criminal code, it is equally complex and presents equally serious consequences. As such, it is critical that you have skilled legal representation if your child is charged with a criminal offense. Our experienced juvenile defense lawyers will help you successfully navigate the juvenile justice system and provide the aggressive defense necessary to safeguard your child's future.

Often there are extenuating circumstances that contribute to a child's participation in criminal activity. Problems at home, learning disabilities, substance abuse and peer pressure are just a few things that can lead to a momentary lapse in judgment that results in a criminal charge. As such, while we always mount an aggressive defense in an effort to obtain a dismissal of the charge or an acquittal at trial, in many cases a successful outcome is a disposition that addresses the root causes that led to the minor's bad behavior.

Such juvenile crime dispositions may include one or more of the following:

  • Probation
  • Counseling
  • Drug abuse education and treatment
  • Community service
  • Victim restitution

Important issues when your child is charged with a criminal offense:

  • Obtaining legal counsel to represent your child during any police interrogation
  • Preventing the minor from being sent to a youth detention center
  • Preventing the minor from being tried as an adult

Contact Jeffrey W. Plaza to schedule a consultation regarding a juvenile criminal matter in New Jersey.

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