If a person under the age of 18 is accused of violating the law in New Jersey, it is the usual practice for the case to be adjudicated in the juvenile law system. The juvenile law system is similar to the adult system in that traditionally the adjudication is done by a judge in a formal court hearing. However, there are some alternatives to formal court hearings for juveniles. New Jersey residents with children involved in the juvenile law system may wish to know more about some of these alternatives.
One possible alternative is referred to as a juvenile conference committee or an intake services committee. This is where a juvenile complaint is presented to a committee of trained citizen volunteers. The juvenile, the juvenile’s parents and the person who brought the complaint are invited to appear before the committee. The parties engage in a discussion of the alleged offense and other related matters.
The goal of the meeting is for the parties to agree on a resolution of the case. This resolution can consist of the parties agreeing to various conditions being placed on the juvenile’s activities. These conditions could include counseling, a curfew, restitution and other options. The committee does not have the power to adjudicate the case or send the juvenile away to a facility. Instead, the goal is to facilitate an agreement acceptable to all parties and likely to assist the juvenile in rehabilitation if necessary. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the case will be referred back to the juvenile court system.
There are other possible resolutions to a case in the juvenile law system as well. An attorney who practices juvenile law in New Jersey can review these options with young people and their parents and provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.