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Juvenile Defense

In New Jersey, persons under the age of 18 at the time of their arrest are generally eligible to have their case tried in juvenile court. The juvenile justice system differs from the adult criminal justice system in that it is generally more focused on rehabilitation than punishment. However, a juvenile conviction can have long term consequences for the child’s future when applying for college or jobs. For egregious offenses like murder, juveniles may even be tried as an adult and face more serious consequences such as imprisonment.

If your child was arrested for a crime, it is imperative that you seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. A Camden County criminal lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse is available to assist in your child’s defense. We understand the nuances of the juvenile justice system and can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your child’s case.

Common Juvenile Offenses

According to the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, about half of all juvenile arrests are for theft, simple assault, drug abuse, disorderly conduct and curfew violations. Consequences for these crimes vary depending on the nature of the offense and whether the juvenile is a repeat offender. In New Jersey, the most commonly charged offenses are:

  • Assault
  • Drug possession
  • Underage DUI/DWI
  • Criminal Mischief

Juvenile Court Procedure

Once a case goes to juvenile court, the prosecutor or juvenile court intake officer may choose to dismiss the case, handle the case informally or file formal charges. In making this decision, they will consider several factors including the severity of the offense, the juvenile’s criminal record and social history, the juvenile’s age and whether the parents will be able to control his or her behavior in the future.

Approximately 25 percent of cases are handled informally, meaning the child will not be charged but will rather be required to comply with requirements set forth by the judge or probation officer such as attending counseling, paying fines, listening to a lecture or performing community service.

If the case proceeds formally, the juvenile will be arraigned and the court will decide where the case will go from there. Judges have discretion regarding how juveniles’ cases are handled, including whether they will be tried as an adult. However, this is typically reserved for violent offenses such as rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault, which only comprise approximately three percent of juvenile court cases.

Juveniles whose cases remain in juvenile court benefit greatly from having a criminal lawyer on their side. A Camden County juvenile defense lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse can help in many ways, including:

  • Getting the case diverted so that the juvenile will not be formally charged, but rather must undergo counseling, perform community service or pay restitution
  • Having the juvenile released from pre-adjudication detention
  • Convincing the judge not to try the juvenile as an adult or to impose a more lenient punishment such as counseling, curfew or probation in lieu of incarceration or monetary fines

Juvenile Records

Contrary to popular belief, juveniles’ records will not be automatically sealed once they turn 18 years old. If your child has been adjudicated as delinquent, he or she will not have a criminal record and his or her records will generally not be available to the public. However, under certain circumstances, several parties may have access to the juvenile’s records, including:

  • Any party involved in a civil action for delinquency
  • Any court or probation divisions
  • The Department of Human Services
  • The Department of Children and Families
  • The Juvenile Justice Commission
  • Law enforcement
  • The juvenile’s school

The legal team at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse can help get your child’s court records sealed or expunged. For a judge to grant the sealing of a juvenile’s arrest and court records, the juvenile must generally have two years of good behavior since the final discharge. If the juvenile has not been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of any crime after ten years, their records may then be expunged, giving them a clean record and a fresh start.

A Camden County Juvenile Defense Lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse Advocates for Minors Charged With A Crime in New Jersey

If your child has been charged with a crime, contact a Camden County juvenile defense lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse. We will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We represent juveniles throughout South Jersey from our office in Haddon Heights. Submit an online contact form or call us at 856-546-6600 or toll-free at 800-989-1575 to schedule a consultation.