As a parent, you want your child to succeed in life with no limitations. With a criminal record, however, your child's path to a good life with a career, residence, and education, can be turbulent. This is why if your child has been accused of committing a criminal defense, it's important you fight these charges tooth and nail. Inaction and the underestimation of the impact of a juvenile offense can create serious problems in the long run.
In this article, the Lento Law Firm will provide you with an overview of the law governing juvenile delinquency in Cape May County.
Understanding Juvenile Offenses in Cape May County
There are two branches of the justice system: the juvenile offender system for minors (people under 18) and the criminal justice system for adults. New Jersey's Code of Juvenile Justice examines the differences between juvenile charges and adult charges in several capacities. For example, the processes are entirely different. Juvenile offenders, or “adjudicated delinquents,” as New Jersey calls them, are not arrested; rather, they are taken into custody. Also, minors who commit crimes will be granted a degree of leniency in court that adult defendants could only wish for. All due to the fact that juveniles aren't deemed as “criminals” regardless of the crimes they may commit.
According to Code guidelines, a judge's sentence regarding a juvenile offense is supposed to be based on the following objectives:
- Preserve the family by coming up with solutions that protect and aid in the development of juveniles within the court's jurisdiction
- Remove children committing delinquent criminal behavior and place them in a program of supervision, care, and rehabilitation
- Secure care, guidance, and control, preferably in their own home, of children within the jurisdiction of the court
- Foster the protection of the community, accountability for criminal conduct, and development of children as productive and responsible citizens
The guidelines for the juvenile process drastically differ from those of the criminal courts in Cape May County. In fact, the majority of Cape May County juvenile cases are heard in family court instead of criminal courts. This is because juvenile proceedings are primarily designed to rehabilitate and reform minors of criminal behavior whereas criminal courts aim to punish wrongdoers.
Cape May County Juvenile Proceedings
A number of hearings will be conducted once a delinquency complaint is filed. If the case ultimately must be tried, a Cape May County family court judge will act as both a finder of fact and a finder of the law. Minors do not have a right to a jury in New Jersey, so the judge will make the final call.
Juvenile delinquency cases that transpired in Cape May County will be heard at the Cape May County Family Court. This court is closed, which means that only people who were directly involved in the crime are permitted to attend. Records of juvenile proceedings are to remain confidential.
Although most juvenile delinquency verdicts consist of more lenient sentences and penalties than the criminal court, judges still have the ability to impose severe penalties. In extreme cases, penalties may include custody and detention in a juvenile detention center.
Protect Your Family
It is important to note that although the circumstances surrounding juvenile offenses are distinct from criminal justice processes, it doesn't mean these crimes won't have a significant impact on a minor's future.
Being an adjudicated delinquent in New Jersey warrants repercussions that can follow minors into their adulthood. Finding the right attorney to handle your child's cases is half the battle for a favorable outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm today for representation at 888-535-3686.