You undoubtedly love your child more than anything in this world. As he or she has grown before your eyes, you have certainly witnessed many great achievements as well as many mistakes that he or she has made. Successes and mishaps are a part of growing up, and no one is perfect. Though some lapses in judgment may have little impact on your child's life, some issues could create substantial problems.
If your child finds him or herself in a major predicament, law enforcement could feel the need to get involved. As a result, the apple of your eye could end up facing criminal charges, even though he or she is still a minor. Because of the seriousness of this type of situation, you may have many questions regarding your juvenile's case.
Depending on your child's age, the criminal justice system could handle his or her case in various ways. For instance, if your child allegedly committed a crime while under the age of seven, he or she generally cannot go to juvenile court. However, you and your spouse could potentially hold the liability for your child's actions.
Individuals between the ages of seven and 15 are commonly seen in juvenile court. That range does not encompass all ages, and teens up to the age of 18 could potentially go to juvenile court. You may want to remember that the severity of the alleged crime can also play a role in how the criminal justice system handles the case, and if the court considers the crime particularly severe, your child could face trial as an adult.
Handling juvenile cases
Three common possibilities exist when it comes to addressing juvenile cases. After a referral to juvenile court, the court officer or prosecutor will determine how to proceed with the case. The three potential courses of action include:
- Dismissing the case -- This means your child's case will not have a formal criminal process, but he or she may still receive warnings.
- Going off the record -- The court officer or prosecutor may choose to handle the situation off the record, meaning that formal proceedings do not take place but your child may still have to adhere to an informal judgment from an officer or judge.
- Filing formal charges -- This path is the most serious of the three. It requires that your child go through arraignment, a hearing, trial and other criminal court-related proceedings.
Of course, your child has the right to a criminal defense just as an adult would. In order to find the best path for your child, you may want to obtain reliable legal information. Utilizing local New Jersey legal resources could help you with this endeavor.