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NJ Juvenile Delinquency Law: Change Is on the Way

Posted by Leslie Posnock on August 14, 2015  |   No Comments »

New NJ Juvenile justice legislation, signed by the Governor on August 10, 2015, will go into effect in seven months. The new law will greatly expand the rights of juveniles charged with criminal offenses, and will, hopefully, assist in their rehabilitation.

Under the new law, 14 year olds can no longer be prosecuted in the adult courts, and children 15 and above can only be transferred to the adult courts for the most serious crimes. The law would, in most cases, prohibit the jailing of juveniles in adult facilities until they are at least 18, instead of the current 16. Some juveniles who have been convicted as adults could be allowed to remain in juvenile facilities until the age of 21.

The measure will allow juveniles jailed on adult charges prior to trial to be detained in juvenile, rather than adult facilities.

Prosecutors, who previously had 30 days to decide whether to apply for transfer of a juvenile’s case to adult court, will now have 60 days to make that determination, and must, prior to that application, provide the court with a written analysis of their reasons for seeking waiver. The State is also required to explain why treatment as an adult is appropriate. The Court has the right to deny the application after analyzing the request. This is a significant improvement over the current law.

The new law also significantly limits the circumstances under which a juvenile may be held in solitary confinement. No juvenile can be placed in solitary confinement unless he or she poses an immediate threat to others or to the security of the facility. Other restrictive measures must first be utilized. Further, every case where solitary confinement is imposed must be strictly documented, and the time a juvenile can be so held is limited.

This bill was created with the input of retired judges, juvenile justice experts, county prosecutors, the Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey State Bar Association.

If your child faces juvenile prosecution or sentencing in the Family or Municipal Courts of New Jersey, or if the State seeks to have your child’s case transferred to the adult criminal courts, it is critical to have an experienced New Jersey juvenile court attorney represent you. The experienced juvenile delinquency lawyers of Schwartz & Posnock appear in all State and Municipal criminal courts in New Jersey, and have convenient locations in Monmouth County (Eatontown), Essex County (Livingston), Union County (Linden), and Middlesex County (East Brunswick). Call us at 732-544-1460 or email us at info@schwartzposnock.com to schedule an appointment.

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