Receiving a criminal charge is a very serious matter under any circumstances, even when the accused is a child. If a juvenile in your care receives criminal charges, it is important to know exactly what kind of treatment they will receive from the New Jersey courts.
As you might expect, the vast majority of juvenile criminal cases in New Jersey go to the juvenile court. Learning more about when a case goes to juvenile court and what the process entails thereafter will help you know what to expect if a juvenile family member stands accused of a crime.
When does a case go to the juvenile court?
An individual must be under the age of 18 upon the filing of a criminal charge against them to be eligible for trial in the juvenile court. Juveniles charged with a felony offense, however, will go to adult court. Even as a juvenile, those who are under 18 that go to adult court under felony charges will receive treatment equivalent to what an adult would receive when charged with such a grievous offense.
What treatment can juveniles expect when charged with a crime?
The court process after the filing of a criminal charge against a juvenile follows typical procedures of investigation, court appearances and trial proceedings. However, a juvenile receives special treatment as a minor that entails protection from any sentencing to prison or juvenile detention for more than three years. The juvenile court also guarantees confidentiality for the minor and places a focus on rehabilitation over punishment.
The law recognizes that juveniles should receive a chance to correct their behavior while also experiencing sufficient consequences for their actions. Though the juvenile court is less severe than the standard adult courts, it is still important to prepare a competent criminal defense.