Children don’t always make the best decisions. They can be impulsive, rash and cruel. Often, they act before they think about the consequences. While these traits might get young children a timeout or result in a grounding, children are not immune from criminal charges. In some cases, New Jersey juveniles can be arrested and charged with crimes.
Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the juvenile criminal justice system works to try to rehabilitate offenders. However, that does not mean that a juvenile arrest in New Jersey should not be taken seriously. An arrest can effect a juvenile’s freedom and ability to get an education, among other things.
In New Jersey, juveniles face a variety of criminal charges. According to the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, children in New Jersey are most commonly arrested for larceny and theft crimes. These accounted for 13.1 percent of all juvenile arrests in 2009. Other common charges included curfew violations, drug charges and simple assault. Additionally, underage drinking charges accounted for 4.9 percent of arrests.
According to data, boys are much more likely than girls to get arrested. Boys account for 71.4 percent of all juvenile arrests. Older children, ages 15 to 17-years-old were also much more likely to get arrested. They made up 75.1 percent of juvenile arrests in 2009. However, children 12-years-old and under were still arrested in 5.9 percent of cases.
When children — even if they are older teens — are arrested and charged with a crime, their legal rights should be protected. Children have a bright future ahead of them, and criminal charges can put a stop to it. With the right legal help, however, juveniles can get a second chance at a normal life.