If a defendant is under the age of 18, their cases are generally handled in the juvenile justice system under separate rules. This is because the juvenile courts, unlike adult courts, are mainly focused on the best interests of the child, which means an emphasis on reform and rehabilitation rather than just punishment and deterrence. But there are times when a juvenile is tried as an adult, instead. These means the child is subject to harsher, more life-altering penalties.
If your child is being tried as an adult, don’t waste any time before hiring a New Jersey juvenile defense attorney.
Juveniles Tried As Adults – When Does This Happen?
New Jersey law seeks to care for and protect juveniles whenever possible, including when they’ve committed illegal acts. In order for the prosecutor’s office to seek an involuntary waiver from juvenile court, they must file a motion with the Family Division of Superior Court. This typically happens when the crime committed was particularly egregious. But regardless of the crime, a New Jersey juvenile defense attorney will tell you that state law prohibits a juvenile from being tried as an adult if they are under 15 years old.
Only certain criminal offenses will be considered for a juvenile waiver. Some of these include:
- First degree robbery
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Second degree sexual assault
- Criminal homicide (except death by auto)
- Aggravated arson
- Weapons possession while committing certain drug offenses
- Strict liability in cases involving drug-induced deaths
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of the above
These are violent and serious crimes that subject a defendant to serious consequences, including lengthy prison terms. That is why it is imperative that a New Jersey juvenile defense attorney is involved from the beginning and attempt to work with the judge and prosecutor to keep the child in the juvenile court system and not adult court.
The court will weigh several factors in deciding whether to waive a juvenile case to adult court. Some of these factors include:
- Nature and circumstances of the offense
- Mental capacity and cognitive development
- Evidence of mental health issues, emotional instability, substance abuse
- Potential danger to the public
- Prior history of juvenile delinquency
- Prior response to rehabilitation
- Degree of criminal sophistication
Hire a Trusted New Jersey Juvenile Defense Attorney
If your child possibly faces being tried in an adult court, you need to seek out an experienced and aggressive New Jersey juvenile defense attorney immediately. If you have questions or need additional information, Mark Catanzaro is the attorney you need to speak to. Contact his office to schedule a free and confidential consultation.