Juvenile criminal matters are usually handled in Family Court where the ultimate goal is rehabilitation of the offender. Sentences are usually much lighter than in adult court, and judges try to avoid incarceration where possible. Prosecutors can petition to have a juvenile’s case moved to the Superior court when serious crimes have been committed like armed robbery, aggravated assault, DUI or murder. In these cases, the juvenile is treated as an adult. Outcomes can be life-altering, so it’s important to have an expert criminal defense attorney on your side.
New Jersey’s highest court ruled earlier this year that judges should be cautious of sentencing juveniles to long prison terms that can drastically reduce the offender’s opportunity at rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The court’s ruling referenced a case of two juveniles who were sent to lengthy prison sentences. State lawmakers agreed with the court’s decision in this case and passed legislation that prevents life without parole for juveniles. The case was escalated to the United States Supreme Court. On October 2, 2017 the Supreme Court declined to take up the case, which leaves the New Jersey court’s ruling in place. Mandatory life sentences without parole can no longer be pursued by prosecutors in juvenile cases. While this is a big step forward for those advocating for juvenile rights, a defense attorney should always be contacted to protect your child’s rights.
In New Jersey, juvenile matters are often heard in Family Court. Serious offenses, however, are often moved to the Superior court where penalties are much more severe. If your child has been arrested, then it’s wise to seek out an experienced juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your child’s rights, advise you on your best options moving forward and advocate for your child in either Family Court or Criminal Court. New Jersey lawyer Michele Finizio specializes in both juvenile criminal offenses and expunging juvenile records. The Law Office of Michele Finizio can be reached at 609-230-0374 or via our online contact form.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.