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What Happens When a Juvenile Is Charged as an Adult in New Jersey?

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What Happens When a Juvenile Is Charged as an Adult in New Jersey?

What Happens When a Juvenile Is Charged as an Adult in New Jersey?

When a minor in New Jersey faces the daunting possibility of being charged as an adult for a serious crime, the situation becomes critically serious for both the juvenile and their family. The legal landscape shifts dramatically, carrying heavier implications, potential consequences, and a different procedural pathway than juvenile charges, emphasizing the need for legal representation. This article aims to demystify the process, offering clarity, guidance, and support for families dealing with the reality of a juvenile facing adult charges for a serious crime.

Understanding Juvenile Offenses in New Jersey

Legal Definitions and Overview

In New Jersey, the juvenile justice system typically handles individuals under 18 years of age who are accused of committing an offense. This system emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment, focusing on correcting behavior rather than imposing severe penalties. However, in cases involving serious offenses, the legal system may charge a juvenile as an adult, subjecting them to the adult criminal justice system’s penalties.

Determining Factors for Charging Juveniles as Adults

The decision to levy adult charges against a juvenile in New Jersey is not taken lightly and is influenced by several key factors:

  • Age of the Juvenile: The law particularly scrutinizes cases involving juveniles aged 15 and above, though younger individuals may also be considered for adult charges in exceptionally grave circumstances.
  • Severity of the Offense: Serious offenses such as homicide, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, and certain firearms charges are more likely to lead to adult charges. The nature of these crimes suggests a level of severity that may warrant the stricter penalties of the adult criminal system.
  • Previous Juvenile Record: A juvenile’s prior interactions with the juvenile justice system, including previous offenses and the outcomes of those cases, play a critical role in the decision-making process. A history of serious or repeated offenses may tip the scale towards adult charges.
  • Juvenile’s Amenability to Rehabilitation: An assessment of whether the juvenile is likely to benefit from the rehabilitative services offered by the juvenile justice system, or if their actions suggest a need for more severe intervention.
  • Public Safety Consideration: The overarching concern for public safety and the impact of the juvenile’s actions on the community at large is a significant factor in determining the appropriateness of adult charges.

The Legal Process for Juveniles Charged as Adults

Initial Steps Following Arrest

Following an arrest for a serious crime, a juvenile may be detained in a youth detention facility. The initial detention hearing must occur promptly, usually within 24 hours, to determine if continued detention is necessary while the case proceeds.

Preparation for the Waiver Hearing

Both the prosecution and defense prepare for the waiver hearing, a critical juncture where the case’s potential transfer to adult court is debated. Preparation includes gathering evidence, witness statements, and expert testimonies to support their positions.

Waiver Hearing Dynamics

During this hearing, the prosecutor must present a compelling case for why the juvenile should be tried as an adult, citing the severity of the offense, the juvenile’s age, and any prior delinquency history. The defense has the opportunity to counter these arguments, emphasizing the juvenile’s potential for rehabilitation and the benefits of remaining within the juvenile justice system.

Judicial Assessment and Outcome

The judge evaluates the arguments, evidence, and statutory criteria to decide whether transferring the juvenile to adult court is in the interest of justice and public safety. This decision is pivotal and can significantly impact the outcome and future of the juvenile involved.

Consequences of a Transfer to Adult Court

Facing Adult Penalties

Juveniles convicted in adult court face the same penalties as adults, including lengthy prison sentences. For the most severe crimes, this could mean life imprisonment, sometimes without the possibility of parole, depending on the nature of the offense and state laws.

Lasting Impact of a Criminal Record

A conviction in adult court results in a permanent criminal record, which can be a significant barrier to future employment, education opportunities, and housing. Unlike some juvenile records, which can be sealed or expunged, adult criminal records are typically public.

Impact on Education and Employment

A criminal record can disqualify individuals from certain degrees and professions, particularly those requiring licensing. It can also make finding any employment challenging, as many employers are hesitant to hire someone with a felony conviction.

Social and Psychological Ramifications

The stigma of an adult conviction can lead to social isolation and significant psychological strain. Young offenders may face difficulties in personal development, relationship building, and community integration.

Strategic Defense for Juveniles Facing Adult Charges

Seek Legal Guidance

At Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC, we craft a defense strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of each juvenile case. Our approach includes challenging procedural and evidential aspects, presenting mitigating circumstances, negotiating plea deals, and preparing rigorously for trial. Our goal is to advocate for outcomes that prioritize the juvenile’s rehabilitation and future prospects.

Contact Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC Today for a Free Consultation About Your Juvenile Crime Defense

The prospect of a juvenile being charged as an adult is a daunting scenario for any family. With the complexities of both juvenile and adult criminal systems at play, obtaining skilled legal representation is paramount. Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC is dedicated to navigating these intricacies, ensuring families receive the support, information, and representation needed during these trying times.

Our commitment to defending juveniles facing serious charges is unwavering. With our expertise, we aim to secure second chances and favorable outcomes, emphasizing rehabilitation and the well-being of the young individuals we represent.

If your family is confronting the challenge of a juvenile charge as an adult, it’s crucial not to face this journey alone. Aydelotte & Scardella Law LLC offers the guidance and advocacy needed to navigate this complex legal landscape. Contact us for a consultation, and let’s work together towards securing a brighter future for your child.