If there is one thing you can count from younger people, it's that they are bound to do something stupid. In a weird way, it's part of life. When you're a young kid or a teenager, you're exploring this great big world of ours -- and part of that exploration leads to them making mistakes and acting in a generally poor manner.
New Jersey children have their whole lives in front of them. They have opportunities that many adults cannot participate in. However, children are prone to making mistakes as they grow into adults. Many children -- particularly teenagers -- are trying to discover who they are and make poor decisions along the way. Some of these mistakes may only get the teenager in trouble at school or home, however, others are much more serious. When children do illegal things, they can be subject to criminal sanctions and charged with juvenile crimes.
Individuals under 18 are considered minors in most states in the United States. Despite the seriousness of many minor crimes, juvenile crime is still treated differently than adult crimes. One major difference is the juvenile law system views minors as children, lacking the requisite intent. While penalties for a juvenile crime should not be taken lightly, being charged as a juvenile is far better than being charged as an adult.
Whether an offender is a juvenile or an adult, law enforcers in New Jersey take violent crime seriously.
Laws restricting access to alcohol among minors were first enacted in the 20th century. Initially these laws varied dramatically from state to state. In 1984, however, Congress enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, prohibiting persons under 21 from purchasing or publicly consuming alcohol. To enforce the act a portion of federal highway funds is withheld from any state that refuses to comply. Today, every state, including New Jersey, prohibits underage drinking.
Like their adult counterparts, teenagers can make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can cross the line into criminal behavior. From age-based offenses like underage drinking and curfew violations, to criminal offenses including drug charges and domestic violence, juvenile crimes are treated differently than adult crimes, often by being punished much less harshly. Nevertheless, ending up in the New Jersey juvenile justice system is still no walk in the park.