NJCMO Newsletter

If your child has been charged with a crime in New Jersey, he or she will be tried in the state’s juvenile court system. Here’s what you need to know about how the system works.

What is juvenile court?

In New Jersey, the juvenile court system is a separate legal system from the adult criminal courts. The purpose of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate minors who have been accused of breaking the law, rather than punishing them. The ultimate goal is to prevent future crime and help the child become a productive member of society.

Who is eligible for juvenile court?

In New Jersey, a child must be under the age of 18 to be tried in juvenile court. If a child is charged with a crime that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult, he or she will automatically be tried as an adult. In these cases, the child will be transferred to adult criminal court.

How does the process work?

The juvenile court process in New Jersey consists of several steps: investigation, arrest, first appearance, pretrial, and trial.

  • Investigations: When a crime is reported, the police will investigate the incident. If they have reason to believe that a minor was involved, they will refer the case to the county prosecutor’s office.
  • Arrests: If the prosecutor’s office decides to pursue charges, the child will be arrested and taken into custody. The child will then be processed at a juvenile detention center.
  • First appearance: After being arrested and processed, the child will have his or her first appearance in court. At this hearing, the judge will explain the charges and the child’s rights. The judge will also set a date for the next hearing.
  • Pretrial: The pretrial phase is when the child’s attorney will try to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. If a plea deal is not reached, the case will go to trial.
  • Trial: If the case goes to trial, the child will be tried before a judge or jury. If the child is found guilty, the judge will sentence him or her to a juvenile detention facility, probation, or some other form of punishment.
Is a lawyer needed for juvenile court?

In instances your child’s case is being heard before a judge, then your child must be represented by an attorney. If a child needs an attorney and you can’t afford one, your local court will provide a public defender. However, an attorney is not necessary if the case is sent to a juvenile conference committee, an intake services conference, or a juvenile referee. Rather, a parent or guardian must be in attendance.

Are juvenile courts open to the public?

Yes, juvenile courts are open to the public in the state of New Jersey. This is done in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the decision-making process. Furthermore, it allows for community input and feedback on decisions that may impact minors. However, there are some restrictions in place to protect the privacy of minors involved in the criminal justice system. For example, certain identifying information about juveniles may be confidential and not available to the public. Additionally, some hearings may be closed to the public if it is deemed in the best interest of the child.

What are the exceptions of being tried as an adult in juvenile court?

In the state of New Jersey, the exceptions to being tried as an adult in juvenile court are as follows:
 
1. If the child is accused of murder or manslaughter, they will be automatically tried as an adult.
 
2. If the child is accused of a crime that is punishable by life imprisonment, they will be automatically tried as an adult.
 
3. If the child is accused of a serious violent crime, such as rape or armed robbery, they may be tried as an adult at the discretion of the prosecutor.
 
4. If the child is 16 years old or older and charged with a first-degree felony, they will be automatically tried as an adult.

How can I access juvenile court records?

In New Jersey, juvenile court records are confidential and can be accessed only by the person who is the subject of the record or by a parent or guardian. However, there are certain circumstances in which the records can be released to others, including law enforcement officials and school officials. For more information, you can contact your local juvenile court.

Can a juvenile case be waved to adult court?

A waiver is the process by which a case is transferred from juvenile to adult court. There are a number of reasons why a case may be waived, but the most common reason is that the juvenile is accused of committing a violent crime.
 
The decision to waive a case to adult court is made by a judge, and the judge will consider a number of factors before making his or her decision. These factors include:


-The age of the juvenile
-The severity of the crime
-The previous criminal record of the juvenile
-The likelihood that the juvenile will reoffend if released back

I'd Like to Find Services for My Family

Learn More