A poor decision coupled with present-day increased school security protocols led to trouble for two juveniles recently in Metuchen, New Jersey.
According to reports, the two found their way into Metuchen High School during the morning of a school day. Normally this would not be a problem – except neither juvenile was a student at the school. When someone figured out they didn't belong, the entire school was placed on lockdown. At this point, the two fled the campus but were later identified and taken into custody. They have been charged with juvenile delinquency for offenses that would have constituted Criminal Trespass under New Jersey law had they been adults.
School Safety Has Become a Significant Concern
Due in part to almost weekly reports of school shootings in various areas of the country, states have passed laws requiring school districts to increase security. Where once it may have been possible to walk into almost any school from multiple entrances with no questions asked, schools have introduced much stricter screenings for students and visitors entering school property.
New Jersey law now requires school districts to develop detailed “plans, procedures, and mechanisms” to “provide for safety and security” in local schools. School districts must observe a “School Violence Awareness Week” each October, during which they must organize “activities to prevent school violence.” Violence in the schools must be reported by school employees, with summaries presented to the local board of education twice a year. In almost all instances, schools are required to remove students found with firearms or other weapons, and either expel them or place them in an alternative education program.
Criminal Trespass in New Jersey
The criminal trespass law that the two juveniles were reportedly charged with violating in Metuchen is 2C:18-3.a, which prohibits “Unlicensed entry of structures.” It prohibits anyone from entering any “structure” while “knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so.” When committed in a school or on school property, it is a crime in the fourth degree.
Possible Consequences for the Juveniles
In the case of the two juveniles apprehended for allegedly trespassing at Metuchen High School, in addition to possibly being declared as juvenile delinquents, the students could face disciplinary action at their own school or schools, assuming they are enrolled elsewhere. All schools now have student codes of conduct, and in addition to disciplining for truancy, they can often discipline students for committing crimes outside of school.
How Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help
Whether your child is involved in a youthful prank that got out of hand or has been accused of something more serious, you need the help of an experienced juvenile defense attorney to make sure their rights are respected during the juvenile justice process. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been helping families deal with juvenile charges in New Jersey for years. He and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team understand the special New Jersey laws and procedures that apply to juveniles accused of criminal behavior. They can help you understand what's going on and will vigorously and effectively protect your child's rights throughout the process.