When young residents in New Jersey are arrested, they often consider what their fate will be in the legal system. Juvenile crimes often differ from adult crimes, but can still have impacting effects. The personal and professional life could be greatly harmed by the crime, and in order to avoid a damaged reputation or a harmed educational future, those accused of a juvenile crime should understand the process and their defense options.
There are three major categories for juvenile crimes: violent crimes, crimes against property and drug related crimes. Violent crimes are considered those that result in bodily injury, property crimes involve situations where the juvenile uses force or threat in order to obtain the property of another and drug-related crimes are those involving the possession or sale of illegal narcotics.
Although there are some exceptions, juveniles are considered capable of committing the same crimes as adults. However, some acts are deemed delinquent acts because of the offender’s status as a minor. These status crimes include underage drinking, truancy from school, running away from home and others. These delinquent acts are typically handled by social services agencies and do not require an intervention from the juvenile court.
When the juvenile court is involved, it is often in cases where the juvenile is accused of a more serious crime. Once in the juvenile justice system, the process seeks to rehabilitate and treat the juvenile offender versus to incarcerate them and remove them from society, which is typically the case with adult offenders. This rehabilitative process is accomplished though a series of diversion programs, alternative sentencing structures and could even involve a peer run “teen court”.
Although the juvenile system differs from the traditional justice system used for adults, minors could still face serious penalties for the crimes they are charged with. Just like adult offenders seek to devise a defense for the crimes they are accused of, juvenile offenders should also understand their legal defense options in order to reduce or avoid serious consequences.