New Jersey Stationhouse Adjustments
Juvenile Defense Lawyer Serving Bergen County and New Jersey
In New Jersey when a juvenile is arrested, technically “taken into custody,” for allegedly committing an act which would otherwise constitute a disorderly persons offense or felony crime if committed by an adult, law enforcement officials do not always choose to file a formal criminal complaint against the minor. Sometimes, police will hold what is called a stationhouse adjustment. A stationhouse adjustment is often used in cases involving first-time juvenile offenders who have committed minor juvenile delinquency offenses, such shoplifting, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, or trespassing. It typically involves a meeting with the juvenile, his or her parent or guardian, and the victim (if applicable), where everyone sits down to discuss the offense and then the juvenile has to make some form of penance for their behavior. The fundamental purpose of a stationhouse adjustment is to teach the young person a lesson while allowing them to avoid the formal juvenile criminal justice process, as well as having a juvenile record. Alissa Hascup is a New Jersey juvenile defense attorney who regularly assists children and parents with every stage of juvenile legal matters, from police questioning and meetings with schools and law enforcement, to formal hearings in Juvenile Court. If your child is involved in a juvenile criminal matter in Bergen County, Union County, Essex County, Passaic County, or elsewhere in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Alissa Hascup at 862-257-1200 for a free consultation about your specific juvenile case.
Stationhouse Adjustments for NJ Juveniles
As mentioned above, not all cases in which juveniles are taken into custody will result in a complaint for juvenile delinquency. Sometimes, police will choose to issue a warning instead of filing charges. In other cases, they may require the juvenile to perform community service, make restitution payments, or complete another alternative form of restitution to avoid entering the juvenile justice system. This alternative method for handling first-time juvenile offenders is known as a stationhouse adjustment. According to the New Jersey Attorney General s Office:
The intent of the stationhouse adjustment program is to provide for immediate consequences, such as community service or restitution and a prompt and convenient resolution for the victim, while at the same time benefitting the juvenile by avoiding the stigma of a formal juvenile delinquency record.
In a stationhouse adjustment, the officer will hold a meeting with the juvenile, his or her parent or guardian, and the victim (if there is one). They will discuss the offense, provide the victim with an opportunity to weigh in, and determine the appropriate way to resolve the issue. For example, if a criminal mischief offense results in property damage, the juvenile may provide restitution to the property owner to compensate for the damage. The juvenile and his or her guardian will generally be required to provide assurance that the juvenile will not commit another offense in the future.
Factors to be Considered for a Stationhouse Adjustment
When considering whether or not to use a stationhouse adjustment as a diversion for a juvenile in New Jersey, police officers are instructed to consider: the age of the juvenile, if he or she has any history of juvenile complaints or stationhouse adjustments, and the cooperation and attitude of all parties involved, including the juvenile, his or her parents or guardians, and/or the victim.
Eligible Offenses for a Stationhouse Adjustment
A juvenile may be considered a candidate for a stationhouse adjustment if he or she allegedly committed a municipal ordinance violation, a petty disorderly persons offense, a disorderly persons offense, or a fourth degree offense if the juvenile has no prior record that is known to the law enforcement officer or agency.
Excluded Offenses for Stationhouse Adjustments
Unless there is specific approval given by the county prosecutor, the following offenses are considered ineligible for a stationhouse adjustment:
- Use or possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) or drug paraphernalia
- Bias offenses
- Sexual offenses
- Offenses resulting in serious and/or significant bodily injury
- Third degree offenses
- When charges against a juvenile are already pending in Court
- When a juvenile is currently on probation, parole, home detention or another court-ordered disposition
Contact a Jersey City NJ Juvenile Attorney for Answers
If your child has been taken into the police department for questioning or you are scheduled for a meeting with local police, an experienced NJ juvenile lawyer can ensure that your child’s rights are protected and facilitate the best possible outcome. At The Law Offices of Alissa Hascup, we have office located in Hackensack, Morristown, Paterson, and Camden, New Jersey and we assist clients across the state. We are always available to meet at the office location nearest you, or to come directly to the local department where your child’s case is being handled. Simply contact our offices today at 862-257-1200 for more information and a free consultation about your juvenile matter.