Many young people in New Jersey enter into the juvenile justice system each year. As there has been an increasing drive to sentence kids to alternatives to detention, an increasing number are placed on juvenile probation. There are some indications that juvenile probation does not always work, and it may actually do some kids more harm than good.
When a judge sentences a kid to juvenile probation, the court normally will assign a number of conditions that the kid must follow in order to stay out of detention. Adult probationary sentences normally just have adults not commit any more crimes, but juvenile ones frequently have a lengthy list of somewhat arbitrary conditions, such as showing up to class on time.
When a juvenile violates any condition of their probation, probation officers are mandated to report the violation to the court. In many cases, a violation will result in the child being locked up in detention anyway. Studies have also shown that kids who enter the juvenile justice system and are placed on probation are much more likely to drop out of high school and to be entangled in the adult criminal system as adults.
When a juvenile has been charged with an offense such as underage drinking, it may be important for family members to seek help from a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to negotiate the terms and conditions of any proposed probation sentence. Legal counsel may also be able to review the relevant facts to determine if there were any constitutional issues with how the juvenile was stopped or searched.