In juvenile court, the focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment. However, many of the sentences (or “dispositions”) in juvenile cases can feel very much like punishment, i.e., confinement in a juvenile detention facility. Judges have a significant amount of discretion in juvenile cases; and, with this in mind, it is important to work with an experienced New Jersey juvenile lawyer who can use his or her knowledge to help ease the consequences of your (or your child’s) arrest.
Potential Penalties Vary Depending on the Charges at Issue
Just like in adult criminal court, the potential penalties in juvenile court depend on the severity of the charges at issue. While relatively minor offenses (such as disorderly conduct or shoplifting) carry fairly minor penalties, more severe offenses can have life-altering consequences.
It is also important to keep in mind that while some juvenile charges are eligible for expungement in New Jersey, others are not. Additionally, while information about certain juvenile offenses is only available to government authorities, other juvenile offenses become public record (unless the juvenile files a successful application for confidentiality at the time of disposition). As a result, while the potential penalties in your (or your child’s) case certainly demand consideration, these are not the only factors to consider when assessing the severity of your or your child’s circumstances.
Examples of Potential Penalties in Juvenile Cases
So, what will happen if you (or your child) are found to be delinquent in juvenile court? Depending on the circumstances involved, a determination of delinquency may result in:
- Payment of restitution
- Community service
- Work, outdoor, academic and/or vocational programs
- Release to the child’s parent or guardian
- Transfer of custody
- Driver’s license suspension
- Detention or incarceration
- A requirement for parental involvement
- A requirement to obtain support services
- A requirement to obtain residential mental health or substance abuse treatment
While judges have significant leeway to make findings in juvenile cases as noted above, they are also subject to certain restrictions. For example, fines are mandatory for certain drug-related offenses. When defending against juvenile charges, this is important to keep in mind as well, as it may be necessary to focus on avoiding other penalties if it is not possible to avoid a finding of delinquency entirely.
How Can You or Your Child Avoid Juvenile Penalties?
With all of this in mind, what can you or your child do to avoid juvenile penalties? Right now, the best thing you can do is consult with an experienced New Jersey juvenile defense lawyer. You need to find out what defenses are available in light of the circumstances at hand, and you need to determine how best to approach your or your child’s case to avoid unnecessary consequences.
Speak with a New Jersey Juvenile Lawyer in Confidence
If you need to speak with a New Jersey juvenile lawyer, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a confidential consultation. To schedule an appointment with a lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending juvenile cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.