If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, then you’re probably worried about their future. After all, some juvenile offenses can have a profound impact on your child’s future, not the least of which is his or her future. The best way to address these matters, though, is to be familiar with the process so that you can seek out a criminal defense advocate who will fight to protect your child in a way that you see fit.
All juvenile cases follow the same process. When a child is first arrested, a detention hearing must be held within a specified period of time, typically within a day or two. Then, a trial will be set and the court will hold intervening hearings to assess the child’s detention status, meaning whether or not the child should be released pending trial. Then, at the trial phase, a juvenile can either admit to some or all of the allegations, or he or she can go to trial to try to obtain a not true finding. If there is an adjudication that a juvenile is delinquent, then a dispositional hearing is set, which is similar to a sentencing hearing.
Although the average length of juvenile detention in New Jersey is two years, this isn’t always the case. In fact, the court has wide latitude to impose dispositional alternatives that it feels best fits the situation and the juvenile at hand. Therefore, a lot of times detention can be avoided in favor of probation and some sort of community services. Sometimes other services become court ordered, too, like counseling.
What is important to remember is that there are ways that you can fight to protect your child’s best interests, from fighting initial detention, pre-trial detention, and all the way through trail and disposition. In order to achieve the best outcome, though, you need to be prepared to stand up to prosecutor’s and aggressively attack the weaknesses of the case. Fortunately, criminal defense attorneys who are experienced with juvenile justice system stand ready to assist.