New Jersey Juvenile Charged as an Adult Lawyer

Juvenile Defense Attorney with Offices in Totowa and Denville NJ

In New Jersey, the purposes of the juvenile justice system and that of the adult criminal justice system are vastly disparate. The juvenile justice system is focused primarily on the best interests of the child, with principles and processes that reflect the goals of rehabilitation and reform. As for the adult criminal justice system, the priority of this system is to punish offenders for criminal conduct and to deter others from similar behavior. The distinct differences between the juvenile and adult justice systems in New Jersey generally benefits juveniles. In other words, when you are a juvenile in New Jersey, the outcome of your case is likely to be more favorable that of an adult convicted of the same offense. Unfortunately, under certain circumstances, the State can seek to prosecute a juvenile as an adult. If this occurs, the juvenile is exposed to the same criminal procedure and potential consequences as an adult defendant.

Alissa Hascup is a highly experienced former prosecutor who now fights tirelessly on behalf of juveniles charged with criminal offenses, including juveniles charged as adults, in New Jersey. Her extensive work and training while serving as a representative of the State is now an invaluable asset to her clients, whom she consistently positions to achieve the best possible results. With offices in Totowa and Denville, Alissa represents juvenile clients statewide, including those in Bergen County, Morris County, Passaic County, Union County, and Essex County. To discuss your case or your child’s case with Ms. Hascup today, contact her offices at 862-257-1200 for a cost-free consultation.

Juveniles Charged as Adults in New Jersey

The Purpose of the Juvenile Justice System vs. the Adult Criminal Justice System

According to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-21a-b, the intention of the juvenile justice system is to “preserve the unity of the family whenever possible and to provide for the care, protection, and wholesome mental and physical development of juveniles” and to remove from children committing delinquent acts certain statutory consequences of criminal behavior, and to substitute therefor an adequate program of supervision, care and rehabilitation, and a range of sanctions designed to promote accountability and protect the public.”

Consider how the above statement of purpose contrasts with the purposes stated in N.J.S.A. 2C:1-2, which governs the adult criminal justice system: “To forbid, prevent, and condemn conduct that unjustifiably and inexcusably inflicts or threatens serious harm to individual or public interests; to insure the public safety by preventing the commission of offenses through the deterrent influence of the sentences authorized, the rehabilitation of those convicted, and their confinement when required in the interests of public protection; and to subject to public control persons whose conduct indicates that they are disposed to commit offenses.”

Juvenile Waiver to Adult Court in New Jersey

Understanding the disparities between the juvenile and adult justice systems, it is highly desirable to have your case adjudicated in the juvenile system, as opposed to adult criminal court if you are a juvenile defendant in New Jersey. However, there are cases in which the county prosecutor s office will seek to try a juvenile as an adult. If the State seeks to impose an involuntary waiver from juvenile to adult court, they must submit a motion to the Family Division in the Superior Court in the county in which the case is being adjudicated. Typically, the prosecution will attempt to waive cases involving particularly egregious offenses. If they intend to do so, the prosecutor’s office must file for such a waiver within 60 days of their initial involvement in the case.

Since recent juvenile reform legislation was enacted in New Jersey, a juvenile cannot be tried as an adult if he or she is not at least 15 years old, regardless of the alleged crime. Also, only certain offenses will be accepted for consideration for a juvenile waiver. Specifically the juvenile must have allegedly committed one of the following:

Considerations for Charging a Juvenile as an Adult in New Jersey

When considering whether or not a juvenile case should be waived to adult court, the court must weigh the following factors:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
  • Whether the offense was against a person or property, allocating more weight for crimes against the person;
  • The degree of the juvenile’s culpability;
  • The juvenile’s age;
  • The juvenile’s mental capacity or cognitive development;
  • The maturity of the juvenile;
  • The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the juvenile;
  • Any prior history of juvenile delinquency;
  • Any prior involvement with child welfare agencies;
  • Any evidence of mental health concerns, substance abuse, or emotional instability;
  • The moral development of the juvenile;
  • The juvenile’s prior response to rehabilitation (if any);
  • The juvenile s potential response to rehabilitation;
  • The juvenile court s ability to impose an appropriate punishment; and
  • The potential danger to the public.

As mentioned previously, if a juvenile defendant’s case is waived to adult court, he or she is exposed to the same penalties as any other adult defendant. There is one exception to this rule; specifically, a juvenile cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Contact a Passaic County NJ Juvenile Defense Attorney Today

If you or a juvenile facing criminal charges in New Jersey, a knowledgeable and aggressive defense attorney can argue against your case being waived to adult court, as well as defending you in adult criminal court if you are ultimately to be tried as an adult. For additional information and the answers you need, contact attorney Alissa Hascup today. Ms. Hascup will be happy to discuss your case and outline your available legal options. Consultations are always provided free of charge.