Courts We Serve
Middlesex County Juvenile Lawyer
New Brunswick NJ Juvenile Offense
There are few events that can trigger parental instincts of protection like being advised that your child has been charged with a criminal offense. These feelings can border terror when a juvenile delinquency offense results in arrest and detention. The best way to protect your son or daughter’s future against the consequences of a criminal charge is to hire a skilled juvenile lawyer.
Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver is the largest criminal defense firm in Middlesex County. Our staff of attorneys includes former prosecutors who have handled many juvenile cases, including one who served as a supervisor in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. You can rely on our 100 plus years of combined experience and long track record of success to insure that the ramifications of a juvenile criminal offense are minimized. Whether your child was arrested in New Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge or another municipality, the lawyers at our firm are equipped to thoroughly and effectively defend them at the Juvenile Part.
Understanding the Criminal Justice Process for Juvenile Cases
In order to make informed decisions on behalf of your son or daughter, it is pivotal that you have a fundamental understanding of the NJ juvenile justice process. Some of the more important dynamics of criminal proceedings involving minors are discussed below but it is important that you know that what your child is facing is not a criminal proceeding. Your son or daughter is the subject of a juvenile delinquency action rather than a criminal matter. The Family Division of the Superior Court, which is located in New Brunswick, has exclusive jurisdiction to decide these cases. All issues of fact and law are decided by a judge rather than jury.
Representation by an Attorney. Every child must be represented by counsel when they appear in New Brunswick juvenile court. There is no ability for you to speak on behalf or represent your son or daughter. You are obligated as the parent and/or guardian to retain an attorney. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you can provide a financial disclosure to the judge so that the court may determine if you qualify for a public defender. There is no other option since representation is mandatory. An attorney with all of the tools and familiarity with the court system to competently defend your child is ready to assist you by contacting our New Brunswick Office.
Questioning a Child. As a general rule, children are not to be questioned without their parent or an attorney being present. Police in South Brunswick, Monroe, Metuchen or another municipality in the state are required to utilize their best efforts to locate a parent or legal guardian before beginning questioning. This is particular true with younger children. Prosecutors must demonstrate that the juvenile’s parent could not be located in order for a confession given without their parent to be admissible in juvenile court. And even when an interrogation is permissible with these guidelines in mind, police are required to adhere to the “highest standards of due process and fundamental fairness”. In the Interests of A.W., 212 N.J. 114 (2012).
Arrest of a Juvenile. A police officer is permitted to take a juvenile into custody if there is probable cause to believe that they have been “delinquent.” A child is delinquent if they commit an indictable crime, disorderly persons offense or municipal ordinance violation. A complaint setting forth the allegations of delinquency must be prepared at the time of the child’s arrest and their parents/guardian immediately notified thereafter.
Detention of a Child. Since there is no right to bail in a juvenile case, a determination must be made when charges are filed as to whether or not the child should be detained or released to his or her parents. A child can only be kept and brought to the Middlesex County Juvenile Detention Center if there is a history of willful failure to appear in court, physical safety of persons or property would be seriously threatened if the juvenile was released, or the child is charged with a first, second or third degree crime such as:
- Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute CDS
- Possession of Drugs (other than 5o grams or less of marijuana)
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Assault
- Terroristic Threats
- Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purposes
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
- Invasion of Privacy
A juvenile may also be detained for a limited number of fourth degree crimes which include fourth degree aggravated assault, stalking, criminal sexual contact, bias intimidation, failure to control or report a dangerous fire, possession of a prohibited weapon or device, or unlawful possession of a weapon. A juvenile who is 11 years of age or under cannot be placed in detention unless they are being charged with a first degree or second degree crime. A child is entitled to a detention hearing no later than the morning immediately following his or her arrest. The judge will determine at that proceeding whether further pretrial detention is required. Click here for more information about juvenile detention.
Waiver to Adult Court. There are certain circumstances that allow a prosecutor to waive a child to adult court at the New Brunswick Superior Court. This is not a favorable course of action In an overwhelming percentage of cases since the penalties are typically much more severe when a child is tried as an adult.
Diverting a Juvenile Offense. There are several alternatives to prosecution, commonly referred to as diversions, which our attorneys are often successful in securing on behalf of the children we defend. If we are engaged early in an investigation, a station house adjustment can be explored. This is where we attempt to resolve the case at the police station without resort to the courts (e.g. work with the police to repair, provide restitution, apology, etc.). Juvenile Conference Committee is an option if a juvenile offense has already been filed. This avenue allows the charge to be diverted to a committee of two to three community members that attempted to resolve the matter without further involvement of the courts. It is also possible for our lawyers to pursue an Intake Services Conference where the case is diverted to a referee who will attempt to resolve the case without any finding of guilt or innocence.
What You Need To Know About Penalties In Juvenile Court
The thought that your child cannot be exposed to serious penalties because their case is in the juvenile court is not reality. The judge is permitted to order the incarceration of your son or daughter upon conviction for any crime. The maximum is one year for a fourth degree crime, two years for a third degree crime, three years for a second degree crime and four years for a first degree crime. A child can even be sent to detention for six months upon conviction for a disorderly persons offense like harassment, simple assault or possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana. Other sentencing options including a period of probation, community service, drug rehabilitation or counseling, or placement in a program. The best way to afford protection against these penalties is to select a highly qualified juvenile delinquency attorney to defend your child.
Speak to a Highly Experienced Juvenile Crime Lawyer Now
The best way to get the answers you need and help defending your child is to contact our Middlesex County Defense Firm. You will obtain an immediate free consultation with a lawyer at Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver to address all of your questions. We will also discuss what would be involved if you choose to hire us to represent your son, daughter or grandchild. We are extremely knowledgeable in the defense of juvenile charges in Middlesex County and offenses arising in Sayreville, North Brunswick, Plainsboro, South Brunswick and elsewhere. Attorneys are available 24/7 to assist you so do not hesitate to contact us whenever the need arises.
New Brunswick NJ juvenile lawyers at Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver defend charges filed in New Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge, South Brunswick, Monroe, Metuchen, Sayreville, North Brunswick, Monroe, East Brunswick, Plainsboro and other municipalities.