adolescent in gray and blue jacket holding handcuffed hands up

Jersey City Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney

Have the police arrested your minor child in Jersey City, New Jersey? A delinquency adjudication or conviction could have long-lasting consequences for your child’s freedom and future. You need legal help from an experienced Jersey City criminal defense lawyer at our law firm.

Let a New Jersey juvenile crimes attorney from William Proetta Criminal Law fight for your family and protect your child’s future.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how our criminal trial attorney can provide the legal assistance you need to protect your child’s rights. The case review is totally confidential and comes without further obligations.

Why You Need Help from Our Jersey City Juvenile Defense Attorney

Our law office is prepared to work tirelessly to protect your child’s freedom, reputation, and future from juvenile criminal charges by:

  • Independently investigating your child’s case to recover all available evidence
  • Building a compelling juvenile defense to seek the best outcome by drawing on all available resources and strategies
  • Vigorously advocating against petitions to transfer your child’s case to adult court
  • Pursuing pre-adjudication release or diversion alternatives
  • Contesting your child’s juvenile charges at each step of the process
  • Arguing for a less severe disposition if the court adjudicates them delinquent

Types of Juvenile Defense Cases We Handle in Jersey City

A Jersey City criminal defense lawyer with William Proetta Criminal Law can protect your child from criminal offense charges like:

  • Drug crimes, including drug possession or possession with intent to distribute
  • Theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • DWI
  • Underage drinking
  • Possession of a fake ID
  • Trespassing
  • Simple assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Sex crimes
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly persons offenses
  • Computer crimes

Legal Differences Between Juvenile and Adult Crimes

There are a number of crucial differences between juvenile and adult criminal cases, including the following:

  • Goals – The adult criminal justice system seeks to punish offenders for criminal conduct and require them to “repay their debt to society.” Conversely, the juvenile system takes a rehabilitative approach. Its goals include preserving the unity of the family, rehabilitating juveniles into responsible members of society, and promoting juveniles’ welfare and best interests.
  • Terminology – Juvenile and adult criminal cases use different sets of terms. Whereas police “arrest” an adult for a crime, the juvenile system takes a juvenile into “custody” for an offense. Furthermore, adults commit “crimes” and face “convictions,” whereas juveniles commit “delinquent acts” and may receive “dispositions.”
  • Bail – The adult criminal justice system may require a defendant to post bail if released pending trial. Juveniles, however, do not have to post bail when released to a parent’s or guardian’s custody.
  • Consequences – A conviction in the adult criminal justice system can result in severe penalties and consequences, including prison time and a publicly accessible criminal record. Conversely, juveniles rarely face terms of juvenile detention, and the public cannot access juvenile records except in limited circumstances.

Although most juvenile charges are prosecuted in Hudson County family court, some cases are transferred to adult criminal court. Courts can transfer juvenile cases for minors 15 and older if the state establishes probable cause that the juvenile committed a serious delinquent act that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult, such as homicide, aggravated assault, sexual assault, or robbery.

Legal Process and Potential Sentences for Juvenile Offenses in Jersey City

The legal process for prosecuting juvenile offenses in Jersey City begins when the state files an allegation of delinquency with the family court in Hudson County. If the police have not already done so, a law enforcement officer will locate the juvenile, take them into custody, and sign a delinquency complaint.

Alternatively, the officer may release the juvenile to their parent or guardian or conduct a station house adjustment, which allows an officer to avoid placing a juvenile who has committed a minor, first-time offense in the juvenile justice system. Instead, they order the juvenile to complete community service or restitution.

Once the officer files a delinquency complaint, the family court must hold an initial detention hearing within 24 hours to determine whether to keep the juvenile in custody pending the disposition hearing. The court may order the juvenile’s continued detention if it finds the juvenile poses a threat to public safety or a high risk of not appearing in court. If the court detains the juvenile, it must conduct an initial probable cause hearing within two days and detention reviews after 14 days and every month after that.

At the adjudication hearing, the court will hear evidence, witness testimony, and legal arguments from counsel to determine whether the juvenile committed the alleged delinquent acts. When a family court finds that a juvenile has committed a delinquent act, it may impose various consequences as part of the juvenile’s disposition, such as:

  • Adjourned disposition
  • Community service
  • Diversion
  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Release to a parent’s or guardian’s custody
  • Release to the custody of the Department of Children and Families
  • Obligation to take part in support services
  • Residential mental health or substance abuse treatment
  • Restitution
  • Secure confinement (incarceration)
  • Participation in work, vocational, and academic programs
  • Suspension of driving privileges

Certain delinquent acts have mandatory dispositions, such as drug-related cases where courts must impose fines.

Potential Defense Strategies for Juvenile Offenses

Depending on the circumstances, our lawyers could be able to pursue several different strategies in your child’s defense. Common defense strategies in juvenile cases include:

  • False accusations – The attorney might argue that the accusations leading to the juvenile’s charges arose from a misunderstanding or malicious intent.
  • Alibi – A lawyer might prove the juvenile was not at the crime scene when the alleged offense occurred.
  • Lack of intent – Many delinquent acts require the juvenile to have specific intent to commit the act. Absent this intent, the charges will not stand.
  • Self-defense – If the case involves a violent crime, your lawyer might argue that your child acted in self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property.
  • Mistaken identity – This defense involves showing a victim or witness has erroneously identified the juvenile as the perpetrator.
  • Illegal search and seizure – Proving that the police lacked a warrant to conduct a search or probable cause to detain or search a juvenile may result in the court excluding any evidence unlawfully obtained this way.

Special Considerations for Juvenile Offenses in Jersey City

Juveniles adjudicated delinquent can apply to have their juvenile offense records expunged three years after completing the terms of their disposition. Expungement seals the record from access, except in limited circumstances.

Talk to Our Jersey City Juvenile Defense Lawyer Now

If the police have detained your child for an alleged delinquent act, your family needs a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience to protect your rights, interests, and future.

Contact William Proetta Criminal Law today for a free, confidential consultation with a New Jersey juvenile defense attorney to discuss your child’s options.