Almost one year ago in September, an incident involving two 17-year-old boys, a 19-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl occurred. Accusations were made after the incident and an investigation led Morristown police to charge the three teenage boys with sexual assault crimes in Morris County court relating to the events that occurred during the incident.
No convictions have been made in the case, but decisions have already occurred that could alter the future of the juveniles’ lives. In late August, the boys were denied house arrest — a program that would allow them to remain in their homes instead of locked up in a juvenile detention center until a determination could be made about their innocence or guilt in the matter. Now, another important decision is nearing.
A hearing is scheduled for next week on Oct. 16. The prosecutor in charge of the case has requested that the two now 18-year-old boys be tried as adults instead of in juvenile court. This decision may be scheduled for a single hearing, but the effect of the decision will have a serious impact on the case.
If the teens are to be tried as an adult, they could face the possibility of 20 years in a state-run prison. This means that they would not only face a much longer sentence, but they would be treated as adults and placed with adults in the facility. If they are charged as juveniles, they would face up to four years in a detention center that is designed for minors.
Because the incident occurred while the two boys were under the age of 18, they could still be charged as juveniles even though they are currently considered adults. For the 19-year-old involved in the case, there is no option and he will be charged as an adult.
Source: Morristown Green, “Tempers flare at court hearing for teen charged in Morristown rape case,” Kevin Coughlin, Sept. 26, 2012
Prosecutors often want to charge teens nearing the age of majority in adult court instead of juvenile court, and this is a decision that an experienced defense attorney can help prevent because it does make a difference in New Jersey.