Parents whose children have been taken into custody by police in Morris County for allegedly breaking the law may be understandably upset, confused and uncertain how to proceed. For many families, this is the young person’s first encounter with police and the court system. You can count on the juvenile defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall to handle the case with compassion. We are parents ourselves and our focus as juvenile attorneys is on achieving the best outcome for your child to protect his or her future.
Being charged with breaking the law as a juvenile does not mean that your child will be convicted. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have extensive experience handling all types of juvenile complaints, including heroin possession, marijuana distribution, simple assault, theft of moveable property, possession of a fake ID and other charges. If your child is facing charges in Pequannock, Washington, Roxbury, Rockaway, Dover, Chester, Jefferson or Kennelon and needs to appear in Morris County Superior Court, Family Division, our juvenile defense attorneys can help.
Please contact us at our Morristown Office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Morristown juvenile defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall.
New Jersey Juvenile Justice System and Court Overview
Children and adolescents under the age of 18 who are charged with breaking the law are typically dealt with through the juvenile justice system. The goal of the juvenile system is to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and preserving the integrity of the family.
If your child has been charged with a juvenile offense in Morris County, it is imperative that you understand how the juvenile justice system works. There are important differences between juvenile and criminal courts.
The Juvenile Justice System in New Jersey focuses on rehabilitating young people to become productive, law-abiding citizens. It takes a different approach than the Adult Criminal Justice System, which is more focused on incarceration and punishment.
The juvenile case will be heard in the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county where the child or adolescent resides. For example, if your child was detained on juvenile delinquency charges in Essex County, but you live in Morris County, then the matter will be handled in the Morris County Superior Court Family Division.
The court will provide you with a copy of the complaint describing the alleged illegal conduct. Police and law enforcement agencies sign most juvenile delinquency complaints accusing youth of committing crimes.
Differences Between Juvenile and Criminal Court
Juveniles do not have the same constitutional rights as adults. Juveniles do not have a right to a trial by jury. Juvenile cases are heard by a Family Court judge. Regardless of the severity of the charge, the matter will be heard in the Family Division of Superior Court.
Your child will be expected to enter a plea admitting or denying the charge. You should consult with an experienced juvenile defense attorney before the hearing and have a lawyer represent your child during the hearing process.
The court proceedings are usually closed to the public. That means that only the people involved in the case, including parents and guardians, may attend.
Young people facing formal hearings on juvenile charges in Family Court must have a lawyer. There is no option for a parent or guardian to proceed without a juvenile criminal defense attorney. Any court appearance in which your child is required to have legal representation is known as a counsel-mandatory hearing.
A prosecutor from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office will be representing the State of New Jersey against your child. In some cases involving serious charges, a prosecutor may seek to have a youth tried as an adult. Our attorneys work to keep prevent a youth from being tried in adult court whenever possible because of the stiffer penalties the adult court system can impose.
The Family Court seeks to hold juveniles accountable for their conduct while guiding them to become responsible citizens. The judge has a wide range of options for disposing of the case and rehabilitating a juvenile and deterring him or her from breaking the law again. The options include:
- Deferred disposition
- Community service
- Driver’s license suspension
- Release to parent or guardian
- Work, vocational or educational programs
- Mental health or substance abuse treatment
- Juvenile detention
When the court determines that a juvenile has committed an offense, the judge will enter a finding known as an adjudication. The child will be adjudicated delinquent. That is similar to a conviction in an adult court. A judge has the option to order the youth be confined in a juvenile detention center, but there are other options provided by New Jersey law.
Many children involved with the juvenile justice system have diagnosable mental health or substance abuse disorders. In such cases, an experienced juvenile attorney may work to help the child receive treatment and counseling to address the problems rather than detention.
All court records in juvenile cases remain confidential. However, both juvenile and adults found guilty of certain sex crimes must register as sex offenders under New Jersey’s Megan Law. If a child is under the age of 14 when the offense occurred, a child may apply to be removed from the registry at the age of 18.
Juvenile Charges in Morris County, NJ
The types of charges that a juvenile criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall routinely handle on behalf of families in Morris County include:
- Juvenile Aggravated Assault
- Juvenile Simple Assault
- Juvenile Drug Possession
- Juvenile Drug Distribution
- Juvenile Robbery
- Juvenile Burglary
- Juvenile Shoplifting
- Juvenile Criminal Mischief
- Sex crimes
Our goal is to secure the most favorable outcome for each child that we represent. We are dedicated to the principle that a youthful brush with the law should not affect a child’s future.
If a finding of juvenile delinquency cannot be avoided, the professional working relationships our juvenile attorneys have built with local prosecutors from years of dealings enable us to get prosecutors to consider preferable alternatives to juvenile detention.
Juvenile Detention Center in Morris County, NJ
A child may be taken into custody and held at a juvenile detention facility depending on the facts in the complaint.
The Morris County Juvenile Detention Center is located at:
460 West Hanover Avenue
Morris Township, New Jersey.
The center provides temporary restrictive custody of young people (ages 12 to 18) who are accused of juvenile offenses or have been adjudicated by the Family Court and are awaiting transfer to another facility.
If your child is detained, an initial detention hearing will be held within a day of the detention. You and your child will be informed of the charges listed in the complaint and whether a lawyer will be required to represent the child. At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide whether to detain or release your child.
If your child is held, another hearing will be held within two days at which the prosecutor must present sufficient evidence to satisfy the court that the youth should be detained. Your child must be represented by a juvenile defense attorney at this hearing.
The Morris County Juvenile Detention Centers houses juveniles from Morris, Sussex, Hunterdon and Warren counties. Each youth has a private room or shares a room with another young person.
Young people who are being held at the detention facility are allowed visits with their parents, grandparents, siblings and guardians during visiting hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Contact a Morris County Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your child has been charged with breaking the law and needs to appear in court in Morris County, a juvenile criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can protect your child’s rights and seek a favorable outcome. The Juvenile Justice System is complicated, and having an experienced attorney help you navigate the process can make all the difference. Our legal team includes former prosecutors and public defenders who know the New Jersey Juvenile Justice System and have more than 100 years of combined legal experience.
There are a number of options available to keep a criminal conviction off your child’s record. The sooner an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer is involved in the case, the stronger our chances of being able to fight the charges effectively.
Contact us online or call our Morristown Office for a free initial consultation. We are here to help you in Morris County.