Getting charged with a crime is terrifying, no matter how old you are, and even if it is not your first criminal case. Imagine how frightening it must be when you are too young to vote or to work a full-tine job. Defendants in criminal cases have rights under the United States Constitution, no matter the age of the defendant, and our Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will help young defendants exercise their rights and will make sure that the court system is treating them with the respect and compassion they deserve. Our 11 Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are certified criminal trial lawyers with a combined total of more than 200 years of experience in the legal profession, but that is not all. Many of us have previously worked as public prosecutors for Essex County or for municipal prosecutors’ offices in various New Jersey towns. Therefore, you should visit the conveniently located Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Bloomfield or Newark if your minor child is facing legal trouble. Getting the best juvenile crimes defense now could spare your child more complex problems in the future.
How Does Juvenile Court Work in Essex County, New Jersey?
18 is the age of legal majority in the United States. When a person below the age of 18 is accused of breaking the law, they do not go to criminal court. Instead, the family courts decide their cases. In this regard, the child or teenager’s best interest is the main criterion in deciding the outcome of the case, just as it is when setting parenting plans for minors whose parents are divorced. Just as the family courts prioritize placing children in stable environments and caring for their physical and mental health when determining child custody after divorce, these are also a primary concern when responding to incidents of theft, drug use, and violent behavior by children and teenagers.
Of equal importance is that, except in the case of older teens accused of serious violent offenses, there is no possibility of getting a criminal conviction listed on your permanent record, even if you spent time in juvenile detention after your juvenile case. The Essex County family courts handle cases in which youth between the ages of 9 and 17 stand accused of illegal actions. Violent or risky behavior by children younger than 9 is not considered a matter for deliberation by a juvenile crimes court. If a child younger than nine does something that fits the definition of a crime, behavioral health treatment is the next step, and Essex County family services can also connect families to the appropriate resources.
Teens accused of juvenile crimes do not go to prison, and they do not get a permanent criminal record, but they do have the right to representation by an attorney and, in fact, New Jersey law requires it. You are not allowed to represent your own child in their juvenile crimes case, even if you are knowledgeable about the law. You may hire a professional attorney licensed to practice in New Jersey, or the court will appoint an attorney for your child. The best option is to work with the Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall.
Essex County Juvenile Crimes Defense Lawyer
Most juvenile crimes cases in Essex County, New Jersey are for minor offenses, but it is still terrifying if your child or teen has to go to juvenile court. Remember that, with the help of a juvenile crimes defense attorney, you can help your child emerge from the experience of juvenile court feeling hopeful, confident, and strong. These are some of the most common offenses for which juveniles get criminal cases in Essex County:
- Drug possession
- Sale of a controlled or dangerous substance (CDS)
- Leaving the scene of a car accident
- Internet sex crimes
- Gang activity
- Underage drinking
The juvenile crimes division of the family court has an obligation to treat all young defendants with respect and to uphold their rights, but in practice, this does not always happen. Judges and prosecutors might stereotype your child as an incorrigible criminal. The best way to get a favorable outcome is to work with the Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall.
Essex County Juvenile Crimes and the Rights of Young Defendants
According to New Jersey law, minors accused of juvenile crimes are children first and defendants in criminal cases second. Judges who rule on juvenile crimes cases must decide on what they believe to be the young defendant’s best interest. These are just some of the ideals to which the juvenile crimes courts aspire:
- Providing rehabilitative services, such as mental health counseling and treatment for substance use disorder, instead of or in addition to imposing criminal penalties
- Making decisions that will help children who go through the juvenile justice system become healthy, financially independent adults and avoiding decisions that would hinder the younger defendants’ chances of employment and law-abiding behavior in adulthood
- Having children and teens remain in their home environment unless there is no other choice
- Keeping children and teens out of situations where they are at high risk of harming themselves or others
- Ensuring that minors have adequate, age-appropriate supervision by adults
Meanwhile, the features of criminal cases are still present in juvenile crimes cases. Plea agreements and the right to due process, including the right to a fair trial, still apply. Dealing with the juvenile justice system for the first time can be a frightening and disorienting experience, but the Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can make it much more manageable.
What Happens if Your Teen Goes to the Juvenile Detention Center?
If the juvenile court decides that your child requires full-time supervision in order to avoid bigger legal problems in the future, they may require your child to spend a certain amount of time in the Essex County Youth Detention Facility. The courts tend to opt for youth detention only when other interventions have failed to help the young defendant avoid risky or violent behavior. It is much more likely for high-school aged teens to spend time in youth detention than it is for younger children.
While at the youth detention facility, teens continue to attend school or pursue their GED. They also have access to vocational training, as well as other forms of social support to help them become financially independent as young adults. They may also receive addiction treatment or mental health counseling while in youth detention if the court deems this appropriate. The Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall may be able to help your child avoid going to youth detention and can help your child access needed services if the court decides that youth detention is the only appropriate option.
Does Essex County New Jersey Charge Underage Defendants as Adults?
In general, New Jersey law requires the court system to treat persons 17 years of age or younger as juveniles and to decide their cases in the juvenile crimes division of the family court. Under certain extenuating circumstances, though, the court might decide to charge teenagers as adults. This is only an option when the defendant is at least 15 years old and when the charges are for a violent offense such as aggravated assault, sexual assault, or armed robbery.
If your high school-aged child is being accused of a violent crime and the prosecutors want to charge them as an adult, do not despair. There is still a legal process to determine whether charging the teen as an adult is appropriate. The Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help you persuade the court that your teen will benefit from the services of the juvenile justice system and that your teen has everything to lose by being charged as an adult.
Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall About Juvenile Crimes Defense
If there is ever a good time to need a criminal defense lawyer, it is when you are younger than 18. The Essex County juvenile crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help you avoid a years-long ordeal with the criminal court system. Your juvenile crimes defense lawyer can help you at every stage of the process, whether it means getting the charges dropped before or after pretrial intervention, arranging a plea agreement, connecting your child to mental health services through the court, or ensuring that your child receives adequate care in youth detention. You should choose experienced lawyers who have worked on the prosecution side as well as the defense side of cases involving defendants of all ages. Therefore, the best option to defend juvenile crimes is to contact the Essex County criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Newark and Bloomfield.