New Jersey Juvenile Sentencing Process

Juvenile Defense Attorney with Offices in Bergen, Passaic, Morris, and Camden County NJ

Juvenile Sentencing New JerseyIn New Jersey, the juvenile justice system is vastly different from the adult criminal justice system in its purpose, procedures, and foundational tenants. The abiding principle that guides the juvenile legal process is the “best interests of the child,” which must be considered during juvenile hearings, as well as sentencing if the juvenile is ultimately “adjudicated delinquent,” which is similar to a conviction for an adult. The juvenile system’s dedication to rehabilitation and reform whenever possible provides for a number of alternative sentencing options, ranging from community service to what is known as a deferred disposition. When you are a juvenile facing prosecution and/or sentencing in Hackensack, Freehold, Morristown, or elsewhere in New Jersey, it is imperative to have a knowledgeable legal advocate who can work to secure the most favorable outcome.

Alissa Hascup is an accomplished juvenile defense attorney with extensive experience on both sides of New Jersey’s criminal justice system. Having served as a Municipal Prosecutor, Assistant County Prosecutor, and Special Deputy Attorney General, Ms. Hascup has a comprehensive understanding of the law, which she leverages every day to best defend her clients. Her vast experience allows her to successfully defend juveniles and young adults in Bergen County, Morris County, Hudson County, Union County, Passaic County, and throughout New Jersey. In fact, she was recently named among the Top 100 Criminal Trial Lawyers, by the National Trial Lawyers Association. To discuss your case or your child s case with Ms. Hascup today, contact her offices at 862-257-1200. She will be happy to answer your questions and consultations are always provided free of charge.

Potential Sentences in New Jersey Juvenile Cases

As stated in N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-21, the purpose of the juvenile justice system is to balance maintaining the public safety with preserving the unity of the family whenever possible; implementing sanctions that promote the rehabilitation of juveniles; and developing programs that allow juveniles to become responsible and productive members of the community. In accordance with these goals, there are a variety of dispositions and consequences that can be imposed to rehabilitate a juvenile and prevent him or her from committing future acts of juvenile delinquency. Potential sentences in juvenile cases include:

  • Deferred disposition: the juvenile can achieve the dismissal of the charges after completing certain court-imposed requirements
  • Community service;
  • Fines;
  • Probation (maximum period of 3 years);
  • Release to a parent or guardian;
  • Receiving support services;
  • Required parental involvement;
  • Mental health or substance treatment;
  • Restitution;
  • Transfer of custody: removing the juvenile from his or her home and placing him or her in the custody of a relative or other qualified individual;
  • Placing the juvenile in the custody of the Department of Children and Families;
  • Juvenile detention (incarceration);
  • Driver’s license suspension;
  • Work, educational, and/or vocational programs.

Incarceration Sentencing Guidelines for Juveniles vs. Adults in New Jersey

If a juvenile is sentenced to incarceration (confinement in a juvenile detention center or youth correctional facility), there are certain sentencing guidelines and maximum time-periods which the court cannot exceed. Juvenile sentencing guidelines for detention are significantly reduced when compared with those for adult defendants facing incarceration. Consider the maximum exposures for juveniles and adults facing incarceration in New Jersey:

Type of OffenseAdult SentenceJuvenile Sentence
MurderLifeUp to 20 years
Typical First Degree Crimes10-20 yearsUp to 4 years
Second Degree Crimes5-10 yearsUp to 3 years
Third Degree Crimes3-5 yearsUp to 2 years
Fourth Degree CrimesUp to 18 monthsUp to 1 year
Disorderly Persons OffenseUp to 6 monthsUp to 6 months
Petty Disorderly Persons OffenseUp to 90 daysAt the discretion of the court

As you can see, a juvenile should avoid being charged as an adult whenever possible, as the penalties to which they are exposed greatly increase. Notably, both juveniles and adults convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. If the juvenile is under the age of 14 at the time of the offense, he or she can apply to be removed from the Megan’s Law registry once over the age of 18. Otherwise, the juvenile must wait a period of 15 years to apply for Megan’s Law removal.

Factors for Consideration During Juvenile Sentencing in New Jersey

Before imposing a sentence in a juvenile case, the court must consider all of the following factors:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense;
  • The extent of the damage or injury caused by the offense;
  • The potential threat (if any) that the juvenile poses to the public safety;
  • The impact of the offense on the victim(s) and the community;
  • The juvenile s age, previous record, and any social services received;
  • The juvenile’s physical, psychological, social, academic, and developmental needs;
  • Whether the disposition supports family strength and unity, as well as the juvenile’s well-being and physical safety;
  • Whether the disposition provides for reasonable participation by the juvenile’s parent or guardian; and
  • Any other relevant parts of the juvenile’s history.

Contact a Bergen County NJ Juvenile Sentencing Lawyer for Answers

If you or your child has been charged with a juvenile offense in New Jersey, you need a dedicated legal advocate who will walk you through every phase of the process and fight for your rights. For additional information and a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of Alissa Hascup today at 862-257-1200. With offices in Hackensack, Little Falls, Camden, and Morristown, we defend juveniles in courts throughout New Jersey and are available to meet with you at your nearest location.