New Jersey is one of the harshest states for juvenile offenders who are charged with burglary. When a child is charged with this kind of a crime, they need proper representation or else the system can seriously take advantage of their youth and lack of knowledge. With proper legal representation, a sentence can be reduced or even dropped altogether. It all depends on the type of defense available to the juvenile in a particular circumstance. There are also some important factors which influence the degree of the offense and determine the fines and jail time associated with a guilty verdict.
New Jersey Juvenile Burglary Laws
A child commits burglary when entering any building or structure with the intention of committing an offense inside. Theft offenses are actually different from burglary offenses. Burglary offenses only include the unlawful entrance to a building, which can include a hotel room, apartment building, business office or home. Whether or not “breaking and entering” happened, a juvenile can be charged with burglary. Trespassing is an important aspect of burglary in New Jersey. If your child wasn't supposed to be in a building, even if it is in their own home, he can be charged with a burglary offense in New Jersey if he entered with the intent to commit an offense once inside.
Degrees of NJ Burglary Offenses
Burglary offenses are typically third degree offenses and can carry up to two years of jail time. However, the offense heightens if any other crimes were committed in addition to the burglary offense, in which case it becomes a second degree offense. For example, a child breaks into a building, physically injures someone else and leaves. The juvenile's sentence will be worse because he inflicted bodily injury. Depending on the involvement of a weapon, the sentence can increase more severely. If armed or even premeditating bodily injury upon someone during the burglary, which is a second degree offense, a child can face up to 3 more years of additional incarceration as well as additional punishments.
Punishment and Fines for Burglary
Juvenile offenders typically face up to two years in detention at a juvenile facility for burglary convictions. In some cases for first time offenders, the sentence can be reduced to less severe punishment, typically a combination of probation, fines, house arrest and community service. If the offense was not violent, it is more likely that the judge will show leniency, but it's best to have representation that can prove a juvenile is not a repeat offender nor inclined to violence. Punishments become much worse if there is a second degree charge involved. A second degree charge means that the juvenile used a deadly force of some kind, usually a weapon such as a gun or knife. Whether it was the intention to inflict injury or not, a judge will not show as much leniency and this can increase the time of incarceration.
Reducing Charges and Defense for Burglary Offenders
In many cases, children don't understand trespassing or were not aware that they were trespassing. They also may not have meant to take anything and do not understand how burglary laws work in New Jersey. It's especially important for juveniles to have representation when entering a courtroom because an experienced attorney can usually alleviate some of the charges.
Hire a NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Juvenile's Burglary Charge
If you are a juvenile who was recently charged with burglary in New Jersey, you should reach out to a lawyer immediately to protect your rights. If you are a parent or guardian of a minor who is facing a burglary charge, protect your child by carefully reviewing and hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer for their representation. The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca offer free initial consultations to all new prospective clients. Contact Villani & DeLuca today to discuss the details of your juvenile burglary case.