As a parent, the last thing you want to hear is that your child has been accused of committing a criminal offense. This situation can be incredibly overwhelming and stressful, which is all the more reason why you need an experienced attorney to assist you through this difficult time.
In this article, the Lento Law Firm will provide you with an overview of the law governing juvenile delinquency in Mercer County.
Understanding Juvenile Offenses in Mercer County
There are two sides of the justice system: the juvenile offender system for minors and the criminal justice system for adults. New Jersey's Code of Juvenile Justice dictates the apparent conceptual distinctions between juvenile charges and adult charges in several capacities. For one, the process is 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 adults could only wish for. All due to the fact that juveniles aren't deemed as “criminals” regardless of the crimes they may commit.
A judge's sentence regarding a juvenile offense is supposed to reflect 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
These guidelines for the juvenile process drastically differ from those of the criminal courts in Mercer County. In fact, the majority of Mercer 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.
Mercer County Juvenile Proceedings
A series of hearings are conducted once a delinquency complaint is filed. If the case ultimately must be tried, a Mercer 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 Mercer County will be heard at the Mercer 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.
It is important to note that although the circumstances surrounding juvenile offenses are distinct, it doesn't mean these crimes won't have a significant impact on a minor's future.
Protect Your Family
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 case is half the battle for a favorable outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm today for representation at 888-535-3686.