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New Jersey juvenile delinquency dispositions

Parents of children who are facing juvenile delinquency proceedings in New Jersey may be concerned about their children's futures and what penalties they may face. Judges in juvenile courts are mostly concerned with rehabilitation of the children and teenagers they deal with, and dispositions for juvenile crimes often focus on preventing future offenses.

Many juvenile delinquency dispositions involve counseling or supervision of the child or teenager. A judge may issue an adjourned disposition instead of imposing consequences. If the juvenile is not taken into custody again during the adjournment, the charges against them may be dismissed. Some judges require drug and alcohol treatment, outdoor, vocational or academic programs or other support services to help juveniles stop substance abuse or to identify mental health issues that may be influencing the child's tendency to offend. Dispositions may also require parents to be more involved in their children's rehabilitation. If the judge believes that the child's home environment is unhealthy, they may order a change of custody.

Some dispositions are similar to penalties adults face in criminal court proceedings. Fines, probation, community service, driver's license suspension or jail or prison terms may be ordered, depending on the severity of the charges against the child or teenager. A judge may also order that restitution be paid to victims of a juvenile's presumed crime. Certain mandatory minimum dispositions may be required, depending on the charges.

Defense attorneys may be able to help children and teenagers accused of crimes even after their trials. Attorneys may be able to advocate for their clients disposition hearings, sometimes working with judges to develop strategies focused on helping children and teenagers live productive, healthy lives. They may also be able to help people with juvenile criminal records expunge a charge after the waiting period has passed.

Source:  New Jersey Courts, "Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings and Your Child ", November 11, 2014

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