Parenthood is a massive responsibility. At the end of the day, you hope your child becomes a decent human being, contributes to society, and obtains a quality of life that fulfills their wildest dreams. So, when you receive a call from the authorities or the school claiming that your child has committed a criminal offense, it may seem like life has thrown a wrench in your plans. But don't fret - the good news is that you don't have to go through this difficult process by yourself. The Lento Law Firm is here to guide you through the juvenile delinquency process in Salem County.
Understanding Juvenile Offenses in Salem County
There are two branches of the New Jersey justice system: the juvenile offender system for minors and the criminal justice system for adults. New Jersey's Code of Juvenile Justice makes it clear that juvenile charges and adult charges are very different. One apparent distinction is that the processes are entirely different. Juvenile offenders, otherwise known as “adjudicated delinquents,” are not arrested; they're taken into custody. Another difference is that 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 verdict regarding a juvenile offense is intended to reflect the following objectives:
- 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
- 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
These guidelines for the juvenile process significantly differ from those of the criminal courts in Salem County. In fact, the majority of Salem 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.
Salem County Juvenile Proceedings
A number of hearings are held once a delinquency complaint is filed. If the case ultimately must be tried, a Salem County family court judge will act as both a finder of law or a finder of fact in Salem County. 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 Salem County will be heard at the Salem 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 entail more lenient sentences and penalties than those imposed by criminal courts, 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.
We're Here to Help
Being an adjudicated delinquent in New Jersey warrants repercussions that can follow minors into 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.