The Family Court Process for Juvenile Crimes in New Jersey

We’ll continue our focus on juvenile crimes in this entry on our Morristown criminal defense law blog. Last week we reviewed the steps that occur directly after an arrest. Let’s look now at the family court process, with the understanding that the following is provided only as general information — not specific legal advice.

New Jersey law stipulates the time frame within which hearings must occur for juveniles. Notably, within 24 hours, an initial detention hearing must take place. If children are being held in detention, they have the right to a probable cause hearing within no fewer than two court days. This is an important step because juveniles may be able to secure their release from detention if probable cause is not established.

Follow-up reviews must be held at roughly two and three-week intervals if the juvenile remains in detention. Then, at an adjudicator hearing, the court will determine whether the juvenile is to be adjudicated delinquent on any of the charges. Finally, a disposition hearing will be held within approximately two months.

The most common outcome of a disposition hearing is probation supervision, although community service may also be ordered. A judge may also order money to be paid back to victims, if applicable. Restrictions like counseling may be ordered as well.

In some cases, juveniles may be incarcerated at a juvenile facility or even waived into the adult system. We will conclude our review of the juvenile law system with a look at these last two items in a future post.

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