Protecting Your Child Against Juvenile Charges
Parents do their best to instill strong values in their children. Unfortunately, running with the wrong crowd, making an error in judgment, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time could put your children on the wrong side of the law. While juvenile charges are handled differently than adult charges, they are still a serious matter that could have long-lasting effects on your entire family.
If you are the parent of a young person charged with a crime, the following outlines what you need to know and how to protect them in the juvenile justice system. When you are in need of strong juvenile defense in New Jersey, get in touch with the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards to hire a trustworthy and successful lawyer.
What to Expect When Your Child is Charged With a Crime
There are special rules that govern how children under the age of 18 are treated when they face criminal charges. In criminal matters concerning adults, the focus is more on the penalties they face upon conviction. With juvenile crimes, the focus is more on rehabilitation and keeping them from committing acts outside of the law in the future. Common types of crimes committed by young people include:
- School truancy
- Shoplifting and other minor theft offenses
- Getting into fights/minor assaults
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Drug and alcohol related charges
- Traffic offenses
In New Jersey, the Juvenile Justice Commision (JJC) oversees cases involving youthful offenders. Rather than being officially charged with a crime, a delinquency complaint is filed against them. Instead of presenting their case at a formal court trial involving a judge or a jury, their cases are generally adjudicated. This means that agreements on possible punishments or treatments will be negotiated among JJC officials, the police, and the attorney involved.
In cases of more serious crimes, their charges may be referred to the Family Court. Again, for these cases, there is no jury trial. Instead, the issue is typically resolved through plea bargains and negotiations. Penalties your child is likely to face include fines, probation, mandatory community service, and attendance at counseling or treatment programs. In cases of violent crimes or repeat offenders, your child may be removed from your home and held at a juvenile detention center. While it bears little resemblance to an adult jail, it is still a sparse, highly restrictive environment. Furthermore, any time you get to spend with your child will be limited.
Providing the Help Your Child Needs
One of the most important steps you can take in protecting your child is to get an experienced juvenile defense attorney on your side. We can negotiate with law enforcement officials and JJC administrators to help reduce the penalties your child faces and increase the likelihood of the child remaining in your home. Additional ways you can help in this situation include:
- Take a proactive approach by getting your child involved in treatment or community service prior to a court order.
- Get written statements from family and community, attesting to the child’s character and contributions to the family and society.
- Enforce penalties at home, such as tight curfews and limited phone or driving privileges to prevent your child from getting into additional trouble.
- Talk to your child about the seriousness of the situation and the impact it can have on the rest of their life.
Juvenile arrest records will not remain a part of your child’s permanent record. However, they may still be visible to schools and certain state or federal agencies. Once they have completed all court requirements, you may apply to have their record expunged through the Department of Corrections.
Our Middlesex County Criminal Defense Attorney is Here to Help
Do not let a minor offense derail your child’s future. Contact our Milltown juvenile defense attorney and request a consultation to get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards fighting on your side.