One of the biggest questions asked by parents when their child is arrested is what are our rights? Was the arrest proper? How can they hold my child? Some of these questions are answered in the discussion that follows but you probably will have many more issues that you need addressed, including representation of your child. Call us anytime 24/7 for a free consultation with an attorney who is a member of one of the largest and most experienced criminal defense teams in New Jersey. We can be reached at 973-710-1520 to discuss the case over the telephone or, alternatively, to immediately set up an appointment in our Newark Office.

How Do The Police Charge A Child With A Crime?

The way police initiate criminal proceedings against a child is by filing a complaint alleging a violation of the New Jersey Criminal Code. All criminal complaints are filed centrally with the related county juvenile intake office, as well as the County Prosecutor’s Office. Provided the prosecutor believes there is a reasonable basis/probable cause for the charge(s), a summons to appear at a hearing at the Juvenile Division shall be issued or, alternatively, a warrant is issued for the child to be taken into custody and held pending the outcome of a detention hearing.

Are Police Permitted To Question A Juvenile/Child Without Their Parents?

Yes. The New Jersey Supreme Court held in State v. Smith, that a juvenile defendant may be questioned without their parents provided this right on the part of the police is exercised with due care given the child’s age, the nature of the alleged offense, the surrounding circumstances of the interrogation (e.g. where is it taking place, manner of questioning, etc.). It must also always be kept in mind that the questioning must be consistent with the constitutional rights of all citizens, juvenile or otherwise. The juvenile has a right to be Mirandized and when he/she is not read Miranda Rights after being placed into custody, any admissions thereafter made are inadmissible. No one can be arrested and asked incriminatory questions without first being told that they possess a constitutional right to remain silent, that nothing shall be construed against them for silence, and that they have a right to an attorney. When this Miranda Warning is no provided in violation of the constitution, police are precluded from using any admissions thereafter made by the juvenile in criminal proceedings.

Can A Child Be Arrested Without A Warrant?

Yes. Court Rule 5:16-1 provides that police may take a child into short-term custody for as much as six (6) hours without a warrant if one of three (3) circumstances exist: (1) there are reasonable grounds to conclude that the child should be detained for his/her own health and safety is in serious danger and that immediate custody is necessary for the juvenile’s protection; (2) the child has essentially run away from his/her parent, guardian or the legal agency responsible for their care; or (3) there is a reasonable basis to believe the child is being abused or neglected. Rule 5:20-1 provides that, if there is probable cause to believe a child has been delinquent (i.e. committed a high misdemeanor or worse under the NJ Criminal Code), the process of taking him/her into custody is to be deemed a measure to protect their health, morals and well-being, as opposed to an arrest. The process of filing a formal criminal complaint must, however, immediately follow unless it has already occurred. At or about that time, a judge is required to determine whether a warrant mandating that the juvenile be taken into custody should be issued.

When Are Police Supposed To Inform Parents That Their Child Has Been Arrested?

In accordance with N.J.S. 2A:4A-33 of New Jersey Law, police are supposed to “immediately notify the parents, or the juvenile’s guardian, if any, that the juvenile has been taken into custody.”

Make sure that the rights of you and your child are protected concerning the juvenile charges by calling us, without obligation, at 973-710-1520.