If your child has been taken into custody, a determination needs to be made as to whether they will be released or detained. The hearing where this determination is made is referred to as a detention hearing. The following is some of the important questions and issues that arise when the prosecutor moves to place a child in juvenile detention pending the outcome of the criminal case. Our experienced juvenile attorneys are available any time of day to answer more detailed questions or to discuss our representing your child at a detention hearing and/or in a juvenile case. We can be reached at 973-710-1520 now.

When Can A Juvenile Be Held In Juvenile Detention On Charges?

N.J.S. 2A:4A-34 sets forth the who, what, when and how as it relates to detention of juveniles in New Jersey. This law provides that a juvenile may not be subject to detention, other than being placed into short-term custody following juvenile arrest, without permission from a Judge or the Court Intake Service. In this regard, a child may be detained prior to trial and a finding of guilt in this manner, where:
(1) Detention is necessary to secure the presence of the juvenile at the next hearing as evidenced by a demonstrable record of recent willful failure to appear at juvenile court proceedings or to remain where placed by the court or the court intake service or the juvenile is subject to a current warrant for failure to appear at court proceedings which is active at the time of arrest; or
(2) The physical safety of persons or property of the community would be seriously threatened if the juvenile were not detained and the juvenile is charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime of the first, second or third degree or one of the following crimes of the fourth degree: aggravated assault; stalking; criminal sexual contact; bias intimidation; failure to control or report a dangerous fire; possession of a prohibited weapon or device in violation of N.J.S.2C:39-3; or unlawful possession of a weapon in violation of N.J.S.2C:39-5; or
(3) With respect to a juvenile charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a crime of the fourth degree other than those enumerated in paragraph (2) of this subsection, or a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, and with respect to a juvenile charged with an offense enumerated in subsection c. when the criteria for detention are not met, the juvenile may be temporarily placed in a shelter or other non-secure placement if a parent or guardian cannot be located or will not accept custody of the juvenile. Police and court intake personnel shall make all reasonable efforts to locate a parent or guardian to accept custody of the juvenile prior to requesting or approving the juvenile’s placement in a shelter or other non-secure placement. If, after the initial detention hearing, continued placement is necessary, the juvenile shall be returned to a shelter or other non-secure placement.

What Factors Are To Consider By The Court In Determining Whether To Hold The Juvenile In Custody & Detain Him At the Detention Center?

Five (5) factors are set forth under N.J.S. 2A:4A-34 for the court to consider in making a determination as to whether to detain or release a child from custody/detention. First and foremost, the court must consider the severity of the allegations against the juvenile (e.g. are they particularly violent so as to manifest a high risk to the safety of the juvenile and public). Second, the court is to consider the age of the child. Third, the court must look at the juvenile’s ties to the community to make an assessment of the likelihood that he/she will appear rather than flee from prosecution. The fourth consideration is the child’s prior criminal record (e.g. does he/she have a prior “jacket” and, if so, for what offenses?). And the fifth and final factor is the juvenile’s prior history of appearing at proceedings, assuming there is a prior record.

Are There Other Options That The Court Is To Consider Other Than Juvenile Detention?

Since the juvenile system favors rehabilitation and keeping a child at home, the law lists alternatives that the Judge is to consider prior ordering detention. The options include releasing the juvenile to his/her parents or guardian with or without restrictions, releasing upon promise to appear in court, releasing to a public or private agency, releasing on home detention, placement in a shelter, and any other alternatives or restrictions that may secure the appearance of the child in court.

Is Any Age Restriction on Detention?

No child eleven (11) years of age or younger can be placed in detention unless the offense(s) involved is a first or second degree crime or arson.

Can You Contest Detention of Your Child?

Yes. The juvenile has the right to present his/her facts and legal arguments against detention through counsel at the initial detention hearing, as well as any review hearings that may follow. His/her parents or guardian is entitled to be present at these proceedings as well.

When Is The Detention Hearing To Be Held?

The initial detention hearing must be held the morning following the juvenile being taken into custody. A detention review hearing shall be conducted within 14 days of the initial hearing in the event that the initial ruling is to retain the child in detention.

Experienced Defense Lawyers To Fight Detention Of Your Child

You need to protect you and your child because the prosecutor isn’t your friend. Our defense lawyers will fight against the continued detention of your child and make sure that he/she has the very best opportunity for release. detention and the underlying juvenile criminal offense. Call us now for the help you are entitled to.