Crime is an unfortunate part of our society. Individuals go against the norms of society and break the laws. Although we hope this does not happen often, it can. When individuals start these crimes at young ages, it can be a part of their lives for the rest of their lives. For juveniles, they may be put into a juvenile detention center to rehabilitate from their wrongdoing. Some juveniles may be able to turn their lives around and give up crime. Others may not have as much success with rehabilitation. In New Jersey, juveniles are considered to be anyone under the age of 18 years old. When someone commits a crime when they are below 18 years old, they can be tried as a juvenile. Even though they may turn 18 during court proceedings, the age of when the crime was committed is what matters most.
How do juvenile cases proceed?
Juvenile cases are take place in the family division of the Superior Court. They differ from regular court processes of adults because there is no jury. A judge is the only one who presides over the case. This is arranged because the identity of the child should be protected. Once a juvenile is arrested for their acts, a prosecutor will file a petition against the child for their wrongdoing. The family court trial serves as a fact-finding trial. The allegations against the child will be heard. Any details will be presented about the case. If the judge finds that there is a lack of evidence, they may decide to dismiss the case. This can then set the juvenile free and they will not have to be penalized. If there is evidence that supports a crime done by the juvenile, the judge may arrange a dispositional hearing. At this hearing, more penalties will be discussed for the juvenile’s future.
During juvenile cases, judges have all of the power. They can elevate the juvenile’s charge to an adult charge. This can cause the juvenile to enter into a regular courtroom as an adult would. It may also wind the juvenile up in jail. Their penalties can be harsher if they are charged as an adult. Judges also have the authority to call an investigation into the juvenile’s life. They can call on the probation department to inspect the juvenile’s living situation and their environment at school. This can assess the child’s behavior. In addition to this, the judge can order an evaluation of the juvenile’s mental health.
Our firm proudly represents clients in New Jersey who are faced with matters of family law, criminal defense, business law, real estate law, or estate planning. If you require strong and dedicated representation for any of your legal matters, contact The Law Offices of George J. Mardinly to schedule a consultation.