Defending Juveniles Facing Criminal Matters in Atlantic County and Camden County, New Jersey
If you or your child is charged with committing a crime as a juvenile, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile justice system in New Jersey. A conviction for a juvenile crime can have serious and far-reaching consequences down the road. Moreover, it can create complications if you are later charged with a crime as an adult.
The juvenile justice system in New Jersey is unique, and the process is completely different from the justice system in place to prosecute adults accused of committing crimes. One of the main purposes of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate—rather than to punish—the young offender.
If you or someone you love has been charged with or convicted of committing a juvenile offense in New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal lawyer working for you. Haddonfield, New Jersey, juvenile defense attorney Matthew V. Portella has been defending juveniles against their criminal charges for many years. Attorney Portella can explain the nature and potential consequences associated with your juvenile charge and can set to work helping you defend against that charge today.
Juveniles can be charged with many of the same criminal offenses as adults. However, the system works differently than it does in adult court, and the penalties imposed upon conviction are not typically as serious as they are in adult court. Some common New Jersey juvenile offenses include the following:
- Shoplifting or petty theft
- Sexual assault or rape charges
- Disorderly conduct
- Criminal mischief
- Underage driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges
- Simple assault charges
- Drug offenses, including possession of under 50 grams of marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia, drug distribution or possession with intent to distribute
- Unlawful possession of a fake ID
If the alleged crime is especially serious, such as with a murder or aggravated sexual assault charge, the prosecutor might decide to charge the accused as an adult, rather than as a juvenile. In that instance, the matter will proceed through the regular adult court system.
If the juvenile is convicted under those circumstances, he or she can still be subject to the same criminal penalties that an adult would face upon conviction for the same offense. A family court judge makes the final decision about whether a juvenile crime may proceed forward through adult court, at the request of a state prosecutor.
If you or your son or daughter is a juvenile who is facing any of the charges listed above, Haddonfield, New Jersey juvenile lawyer Matthew V. Portella may be able to assist with the case by preparing a good defense to introduce at trial on your child’s behalf.
Benefits of the Juvenile Court System
The juvenile court system in the State of New Jersey has many differences when compared with adult court. Many of these differences can actually be extremely beneficial for juvenile offenders. Some of these significant differences include the following:
- The juvenile system uses the best interests of the child standard – The primary purposes of the juvenile justice system (when compared with adult court) are rehabilitation and reform. The adult court system, on the other hand, focuses on punishment and deterring offenders from committing the same crime—or any criminal offense—at any time in the future. Therefore, sentencing judges may consider the child’s best interests when assigning a penalty to him or her.
- Judges try juvenile cases – In cases that proceed in the juvenile system, a Family Court judge decides the ultimate case outcome. In contrast, a jury of the accused’s peers decides the outcomes of many adult cases. Moreover, in many instances, juvenile matters do not even proceed forward to trial. Resolution strategies in juvenile cases are handled on a case-by-case basis.
- A juvenile may be taken into custody, rather than arrested – In many juvenile cases, offending juveniles are not arrested, per se. Instead, they are taken into custody. Once the juvenile offender has been taken into custody, a police officer might want to question him or her—or file a formal complaint or charges—if there is probable cause to support that the juvenile committed a felony offense, a municipal ordinance violation, or a disorderly person’s offense.
- Juvenile cases may proceed in the case where the offender resides – In most adult criminal court cases, the case goes forward in the municipality or county where the alleged incident took place. In most juvenile cases, however, the case is ultimately transferred to the county or municipality where the juvenile offender resides.
- Juvenile cases often present some alternatives for sentencing – In some instances, juvenile cases are eligible for sentencing alternatives that may not be deemed appropriate if the same matter were proceeding in adult court. For example, in a juvenile case, the offender could receive a period of probation, mental health treatment or counseling, mandatory community service, rehabilitation, revocation or suspension of driving privileges, or deferred disposition. A deferred disposition program is similar to the pretrial intervention program that may apply to adult offenders.
Juvenile offenders have options in their criminal cases. Criminal defense lawyer Matthew V. Portella can review all of those options with you or your loved one and help you make an informed decision in your case.
Call a Haddonfield Juvenile Crime Attorney About Your Charge Today
The anxiety and stress that is often associated with a juvenile delinquency complaint can be overwhelming. If you or someone you love has been criminally charged as a juvenile, you need a lawyer with a special skill set to handle the case for you and advocate on your behalf.
Haddonfield criminal defense lawyer Matthew V. Portella has tried numerous cases in juvenile court knows what to expect—and how best to prepare for these matters to achieve a favorable outcome. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation, please call the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, at (856) 310-9800 or contact us online.
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“I want to thank Mr. Portella for taking my case. What an amazing law office and attorney. He is very professional and got all of my charges dismissed. If I ever need an attorney again, Mr. Portella will be the one I call. Thank you again! -A.M.”