Our Morristown Criminal Defense Law Blog just recently discussed a case involving robbery charges. Robbery is a type of property crime in which another person’s property is taken away from them either by force or by fear — think of a hold-up at a store or a bank, for example. Burglary is a different type of property crime in which a place is entered unlawfully in order to commit a crime. The place doesn’t even need to be a home, necessarily, for the entry to lead to burglary charges.
All too often, juveniles find themselves facing allegations of property crimes like these. Just recently in a community about half an hour south of Morristown, police were called by a woman who reported that a man had been inside her vehicle. Nothing was missing from her car and police found no clues in the vicinity.
About an hour later, another call came from a man who said someone was inside his roommate’s vehicle, but the roommate was not home. This time police allegedly caught a juvenile in the car, who at first attempted to walk, then run away, but an officer caught him by the sweatshirt. The youth denied being in the car, although police claim that he had property belonging to the roommate, including his driver’s license. Multiple charges of breaking and entering have been filed against the young man.
While accusations like these can have long-term consequences, there are defenses available to juveniles charged with juvenile crimes. Because prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, sometimes pleading one’s innocence is an effective strategy. A legal professional may also be able to help juveniles challenge evidence in court, or even try to argue entrapment — i.e., that a juvenile defendant was convinced to commit a crime that the defendant would not otherwise have done.
Juveniles charged with property and other types of crimes, and their family members seeking to help them, should not allow themselves to be intimidated by authorities. They have the same legal right to a presumption of innocence as anyone else here in New Jersey.