Juvenile Incarceration in NJ

Nothing is more frightening for a parent then to think of their child locked up behind bars. At the Law Offices of John F. Marshall our attorneys understand your fears and will fight for your child and family to ensure that they do not face incarceration. In New Jersey some juveniles will face mandatory incarceration and even extended terms past the statutory maximums depending on their offenses and prior records. Therefore, it is essential for your child and family to retain a knowledgeable and skilled juvenile defense attorney. Our firm represents juveniles throughout the state, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Union County, Somerset County, Morris County, Essex County, Hudson County and Bergen County. We can address you and your child’s questions and concerns during a free initial consultation.

Juvenile Detention Pre-Disposition

Under S 2A:4A-34 a juvenile charged with delinquency can be placed or retained in detention prior to their disposition hearing if it is either necessary to secure the presence of the juvenile at the next hearing or the physical safety of persons or property of the community would be seriously threatened if and the juvenile is charged with a crime of the first, second or third degree or a fourth degree aggravated assault; stalking; criminal sexual contact; bias intimidation; failure to control or report a dangerous fire; possession of a prohibited weapon or device; or unlawful possession of a weapon. The court will usually hold a retention hearing to determine if a release to their parents is appropriate under the circumstances. It is essential to have a skilled lawyer at this point in the process to help your child avoid any unnecessary detention.

Incarceration of Juvenile Delinquents

The court may set a term of incarceration under S 2A:4A-43 when the juvenile was adjudicated delinquent, meaning that if the act was committed by an adult it would constitute a crime or repetitive disorderly persons offense. The incarceration of the juvenile must be consistent with the goals of public safety, accountability and rehabilitation and the court must be clearly convinced that the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors as set forth in 2A:4A-44. For the most part, juvenile offenses of the fourth degree or less do not warrant incarceration unless the juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent of an offense in the past. Furthermore, juveniles under the age of 11 are usually exempt from incarceration unless they were adjudicated delinquent for the crime of arson or a crime which, if committed by an adult, would be a crime of the first or second degree. Juveniles who are developmentally disabled are also exempt from incarceration. The court also has the option to order a non-custodial disposition under 2A:4A-43 accompanied with a term of incarceration for a term not to exceed 60 consecutive days. A term of commitment in a “boot camp” program for juvenile offenders is considered a term of incarceration.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

In deciding whether incarceration is appropriate for a juvenile offender the court considers the long list of aggravating and mitigating factors set forth in S 2A:4A-44. If the court determines that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors then the court will usually impose a term of incarceration. Such factors include the juvenile’s prior history, age, the victim, manner of crime, etc. A more detailed list of the aggravating and mitigating factors can be found on our Grading New Jersey Juvenile Crimes page.

Past Juvenile Offenders and Multiple Convictions

Mandatory Minimum Terms

In some instances mandatory incarceration of any of a juvenile is required by 2A:4A-43. A mandatory minimum term of 60 days, during which the juvenile shall be ineligible for parole, is required if the offense would constitute aggravated assault while eluding an officer, the second degree crime of eluding, or theft of a motor vehicle, in a case in which the juvenile has previously been adjudicated delinquent for an act, which if committed by an adult, would constitute unlawful taking of a motor vehicle or theft of a motor vehicle. Furthermore, a mandatory minimum term of 30 days during which the juvenile shall be ineligible for parole, will be imposed if the juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crime of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, or the third degree crime of eluding, and if the juvenile has previously been adjudicated delinquent for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute either theft of a motor vehicle, the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle or eluding. In these cases, the court still weighs the factors and these factors will determine any further terms of incarceration beyond the mandatory minimum terms.

Motion by Prosecutor

The prosecutor always has the option to motion the court to order an extended term if the offense would be a crime of the first, second, or third degree if committed by an adult, and the juvenile has been adjudged delinquent at least twice before for offenses that would be first or second degree crimes. The extended term cannot exceed an additional five years for murder, two years for first and second degree crimes, and one year for third degree crime. In other circumstances, the court can also sentence a juvenile to an extended term of two years if the juvenile has three or more unrelated offenses before the court which would be first, second or third degree crimes if committed by an adult and the offenses are not part of the same transaction. This extended term is added to the maximum term for the most serious offense.

Parole and Supervision

When incarceration is imposed, a juvenile can usually be eligible for parole to an adult offender. The period of confinement will continue until the appropriate paroling authority or sentencing court determines that the juvenile should be paroled. Any juvenile who is released on parole prior to the expiration of the juvenile’s maximum term may be retained under parole supervision for a period not exceeding the unserved portion of the term and any term of supervision imposed. A juvenile’s attorney can make a motion to the court to get the child out of the detention facility prior to his parole and provide for an alternative disposition. After the juvenile is released from incarceration or finished with parole, they are must undergo a term of supervision equivalent to 1/3 of the term of incarceration that was imposed by the court. During this time the juvenile has to remain in the community and is in the legal custody of the Juvenile Justice Commission. The supervision may be terminated early if the juvenile stays out of trouble and demonstrates their successful transition back into the community. 2A:4A-44(c)(5).

If your child is facing the risk of the incarceration from a serious offense then it is essential that you get skilled lawyers on your family’s side. By retaining experienced counsel to represent your child, you are ensuring that they receive the best possible representation and an opportunity to avoid detention. The lawyers at our firm, which include a former New Jersey prosecutor, have years of experience at handling a wide range of juvenile delinquency charges, which bring the risk of incarceration. If you are in need of a juvenile defense lawyer to represent your minor child, contact the Law Offices of John F. Marshall. Our law firm is accessible throughout NJ including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Somerset County, Ocean County, Essex County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Hudson County, and Morris County. All initial consultations with our lawyers are free of charge.