NJ Juvenile Custody & Detention System

handcuffsIn New Jersey, an person under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile. If that underage person commits an act that would be a disorderly persons offense, petty disorderly persons offense or crime as an adult, he or she is subject to New Jersey state law and may be arrested. With that comes the possibility of being placed in a juvenile detention facility. There are many things a parent or guardian must know when a child under their care is being accused of juvenile delinquency and risking being detained or imprisoned.

Custody and Detention of a Juvenile

If there is probable cause that the underage youth has been delinquent, the police have the authority to take the child into custody. Initially, this is not a technical “arrest,” but is done in the interests of the child for his or her own protection. Upon this action, the parent or guardian must be notified immediately as to the child having been taken into custody.

When charged with an offense, the child may be held in detention until the disposition of the case. This is done if the child is deemed to be a danger to the community or if there is a concern that the juvenile will not appear in court on the scheduled date. If the juvenile is under the age of eleven, he or she may not be detained unless the charge is a first or second degree crime if it were committed by an adult, or if the charge is arson.

All things are taken into account when the decision is made as to whether or not to detain the child. The authorities will assess the seriousness of the crime; what the circumstances surrounding the crime were; the child’s criminal history; his or her standing in the community; and the record of appearance or non-appearance at scheduled court hearings.

If the decision is made to keep the juvenile in custody, there must be a hearing within two days of the arrest to determine whether there was proper probable cause. The detention review hearing must be held within 14 days of the previous detention hearing. If there is a continuance, the detention hearings must be held within 21 days of one another.

Alternatives to detaining the juvenile are possible. They include releasing him or her to the parent or guardian, releasing the juvenile with constraints on what the youth can and cannot do, and possibly detention in the home.

Formal Proceeding for a Juvenile

Upon the charge of delinquency, the Family Court is required to hold hearings on a specific time frame set out in statute N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-38. An initial detention hearing is to be held within 24 hours of admission. For those remanded to detention, a probable cause hearing and second detention hearing must be held within two court days thereafter. If probable cause is found, review hearings are held every 14 to 21 days for the judge to evaluate the juvenile’s detention status.

At an adjudicator hearing, the court will make a determination as to whether the juvenile is found to have been delinquent based on the charges against him or her. If the juvenile received an adjudication of delinquency, the judge will order a disposition and determine sentencing. This may occur at the time of adjudication or at a separate disposition hearing. If the adjudicated juvenile is detained at the time, the disposition hearing is required to occur within 60 days of admission to detention unless there is good cause to extend it.

If the crime is serious, the judge can sentence the youth to time in a juvenile detention center. Judges and prosecutors tend to try and avoid incarcerating a youth in all but the most serious crimes or if he or she is a repeat offender who is not responding to other forms of treatment. In many cases, there are preferable options such as paying for the damage the crime caused, an apology, community service, fines, house arrest, counseling or educational programs, interventions, psychological care, or being enrolled in a substance abuse program.

Contact an Experienced Juvenile Criminal Attorney

No matter what unlawful act a juvenile is accused of doing, it’s important to have legal advice to protect him or her. If you or a loved one has a child that has been accused of an offense or crime and is facing arrest or has been arrested, call Villani & DeLuca for assistance every step of the way.

Located in Point Pleasant Beach, Villani & DeLuca represents juveniles throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County, New Jersey. Call today to speak with a lawyer about the circumstances of your case and discuss the possibility of finding an alternative to detention for your juvenile. The criminal lawyers of Villani & DeLuca offer free consultations.

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