In prior weeks, we discussed what could happen when a New Jersey case of alleged juvenile delinquency is referred to a juvenile conference committee and when one is referred to an informal court. This week, we will give a brief description of what could happen when a New Jersey case of alleged juvenile delinquency is referred to a judge.
There are two court calendars where a juvenile case could be referred. A juvenile case could be placed on the informal calendar. In that case, the juvenile has the option of being represented by a lawyer, but is not required to have one.
A juvenile case could also be placed on the formal calendar. In that case, the juvenile must be represented by a lawyer.
At the court hearing, the juvenile will be asked to admit or deny the allegations made by the prosecution. If the juvenile denies the allegations, the judge will use evidence entered at the hearing to make findings of fact and conclusions as to the delinquency of the juvenile.
If the judge finds the juvenile delinquent, the judge can impose a disposition, which is similar to a sentence in adult court. Judges can impose any disposition authorized by law, including probation and confinement in a juvenile detention facility.
If the case is placed on the formal calendar and the juvenile does not have an attorney, one will be appointed by the court. Unlike in the adult system, appointed counsel in juvenile law system is not free. The juvenile’s parent or guardian may be billed for the representation. If the case is placed on the informal calendar, a lawyer is not required, but many legal experts would recommend having one to look after the juvenile’s best interests.
Either way, a lawyer selected by the juvenile and their parents or guardian has much to recommend it in terms of being able to provide the juvenile with the representation they deserve.