We’re over halfway through our series on the differences between adult and juvenile cases. To review, we’ve covered the differences between adjudication and conviction, the differences in the expungement process, and why juries aren’t typically involved. If you need more information about the juvenile court process, stay tuned in upcoming weeks! For now, we’ll take a look at local juvenile court and answer why the proceedings usually take place in the county of residence.
Local Juvenile Court Location
First, let’s review the most basic difference we’re here to discuss. Normally in adult criminal cases, the court proceedings take place in the county in which the crime took place. So, for example, if an adult living in Burlington County, New Jersey commits a crime in Atlantic County, New Jersey, then the court proceedings will take place in Atlantic County.
However, the opposite usually holds true in juvenile cases. The court proceedings usually occur in the juvenile’s county of residence. Thus, if a juvenile from Burlington County commits a crime in Atlantic County, then the proceedings will take place in Burlington County.
How Local Juvenile Court Affects Your Case
Second, the obvious question is why? Why the difference? Furthermore, how could this impact your particular case? In principle, the courts like to keep juvenile matters “in house.” In other words, they prefer to avoid strictly punitive consequences, include rehabilitative consequences, involve the family, and do what they can to keep the defendant out of prison. Keeping legal matters in the county of residence helps that purpose.
As you can imagine, this has some pros and cons to your case. Here’s one example. At your county of residence, you’re more likely to encounter a judge who knows the family of the juvenile. They might be more inclined to show some compassion or patience. Conversely, if the juvenile has committed several offenses in that county before, the judge may be harsher.