NJ Juvenile Conference Committees

Diversion of Case to Juvenile Conference Committee

New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Rule 5:25-1 sets forth the parameters for Juvenile Conference Committees in NJ.

5:25-1. Juvenile Conference Committees

(a) Appointment; Jurisdiction. The court may appoint one or more Juvenile Conference Committees for the county. If only one committee is appointed for the entire county, it shall sit at such times and places in the county as it shall determine with a view, wherever feasible, to holding hearings in or near the municipality where the juvenile involved resides. If more than one committee is appointed, each committee shall serve a single municipality or 2 or more adjacent municipalities where feasible and all municipalities so served shall have at least one representative on such committee.

(b) Membership. A committee shall consist of not less than 6 nor more than 9 members. Members of a committee, to the maximum feasible extent, shall represent the various socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups in the community or communities to be served by it. The term of each member appointed to the committee shall be for 3 years, and shall terminate on December 31, provided, however, that appointments shall be made so that the terms of one-third of the members of a committee expire each year. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term.

(c) Duties. The committee shall serve as an arm of the court in hearing and deciding such matters involving alleged juvenile offenders as are specifically referred to it by the court. Its function shall be to set limits upon the behavior of the juvenile offenders before it by expressing, through its disposition of each case, the community disapproval of the behavior with which it deals. It shall be concerned primarily with providing balanced attention to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed, fostering interaction and dialogue between the offender, victim and community, and the development of competencies to enable the juvenile offender to become a responsible and productive member of the community. In addition, the committee shall be concerned with endeavoring to forestall more serious future misconduct by the juvenile offender before it by obtaining the voluntary cooperation of the juvenile and the juvenile’s parents or guardians with its recommendations for disciplinary or corrective action. The committee shall supervise and follow up compliance with its recommendations and keep the court advised thereof.

(d) Appearance; Compliance. No person shall be compelled to appear before, or comply with any recommendations of, a committee. If voluntary appearance or compliance cannot be attained, or if any person interested in a committee proceeding is not satisfied therewith, the matter shall be referred by the committee to the court.

(e) Confidentiality. All matters coming before a committee shall be held in strict confidence and under no circumstances made public. Every committee member shall be duly sworn by the judge to observe the confidential nature of committee proceedings. A committee member, however, when authorized by the entire committee, may publicize in general terms the duties of the committee, the kinds and numbers of cases it hears (without in any way revealing the names or identities of persons involved or the action taken in any specific case), or any community conditions which the committee’s work indicates may require correction to prevent future delinquency.

5:25-2. Referees

The judge of the Family Part may with the approval of the Chief Justice appoint a suitable person to act as referee. The recommendations of the referee shall be without effect unless approved by the court and incorporated in an appropriate order or judgment of the court.