How juvenile offenders can avoid jail time

| Apr 12, 2021 | Criminal law |

The juvenile justice system in New Jersey differs in its approach to justice compared to the adult system. The priority for juvenile courts in the state is making decisions that represent the best interests of a child. And even when juveniles become adjudicated as “delinquent,” the state’s focus on rehabilitation maintains means there are options at its disposal other than incarceration.

Juvenile arrests and officer diversion

A signed complaint alleging that a juvenile committed a delinquent act is necessary before the young person may need a juvenile defense. Law enforcement personnel possess the right to take custody of juveniles suspected of delinquent acts.

The arresting officer can exercise discretion in whether or not to sign a delinquency complaint against the juvenile. One option the officer enjoys is releasing the child to a responsible adult. The officer may also execute a station house adjustment. A signed complaint may lead to the detention of the minor.

Sentencing options

The juvenile justice system in New Jersey will always attempt to balance public safety with maintaining family unity. The justice system seeks to promote rehabilitation and creates programs to help young offenders become productive citizens when possible.

The Juvenile and Family Crisis Intervention Unit provides short-term crisis intervention when family conflict leads to potential delinquent behavior. A JFCIU will allow families to avoid court when a juvenile member becomes guilty of truancy, running away from home, or other family disruptions.

The juvenile justice system also employs a pair of court-controlled diversion programs that allow young offenders to avoid physical detention. These programs, which go by the names Intake Service Conferences and Juvenile Conference Committees are available to juveniles accused of first and second offenses. JCCs include community residents chosen to evaluate cases involving accusations of delinquent acts by a juvenile. ISCS involves court-appointed intake staff hired by the court that handle more serious delinquency complaints.

Juvenile justice laws allow for the incarceration of young people considered a danger to their community or a risk to flee from the court. Either of these determinations can cause juvenile offenders to experience secure detention while awaiting a court date and possible placement program.

The court possesses many options for handling juveniles accused of delinquent acts. An attorney may prove helpful in helping families navigate the juvenile justice system.