I am providing this information regarding juvenile criminal offenses in New Jersey not only to let people know that I represent those charged and arrested for criminal charges while under age, but also to clear up some of the procedural confusion that goes along with these situations.
Most likely the initial document the juvenile receives is the complaint/summons. This document will tell you what offense you are being charged with and includes the statutory code of the charge.
Also on this document will be a first court appearance date. This is where the confusion starts. First, because the defendant is under age, the case falls under the jurisdiction of the superior court of the county where the offense occurred. This means that the first court appearance date listed may not be a “true date” depending on the circumstances because that date refers to a municipal court date. However, the date may be a true date if the superior court refers the matter to the intake committee, if the county you live in has that program.
Most times, the matter goes directly to the superior court. If that occurs, than you may be notified that you have to retain an attorney for an “attorney mandatory” conference. In this situation, the entirety of the case will likely remain in the superior court. The juvenile must be represented by counsel in this instance.
Sometimes, the proceedings may not even take place in a court, some intake conferences are held in schools, offices, etc.
The more serious the offense, the less likely the matter will be heard by a committee, but this is not always the case, and should not be relied upon on as the rule.
In my opinion, organizing these cases procedurally so the family has peace of mind and does not have to stress out over this, or be surprised by it, or make costly mistakes that result in warrants issuing, is a very important aspect of representation.
The defense aspect of the case will always be prepared according to the facts of the case and the legal procedural issues that arise. But I feel that many lawyers overlook the “other” aspects of representation. This is especially the case in theses types of matters.
If your child has been arrested and charged with a juvenile criminal matter, please contact me with any questions. I am glad to help.