New Jersey Juvenile Assault Offense Defense Attorney
An assault can result more easily than you can imagine under New Jersey law. It not only arises when someone intentionally causes injury or discomfort to another but also when they threat or attempt to engage in this type of conduct. In fact, no bodily injury to the victim even has to occur for an incident to be considered a assault – merely putting the victim into a state of mind where he or she reasonably feels that his or her safety is in jeopardy suffices. The same holds true to the extent of injuries since a simple assault even arises when the situation is limited to momentary pain or discomfort.
When an individual under the age of 18 is charged with a criminal offense, he or she is labeled a “juvenile offender.” Juvenile offenders are handled by the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, which is part of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. It is a separate entity from the Division of Criminal Justice. There are often different penalties for juvenile offenders than adults and in many cases, their sentences include rehabilitative attempts rather than simply punishment.
If your son or daughter is facing a juvenile assault charge, an experienced New Jersey juvenile defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help you understand what is involved in defending your child against the offense. We are former prosecutors with over 100 years of experience defending juveniles who have been charged with assault and virtually every other violation. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys immediately, call us toll-free 24/7 at 877-450-8301 for a telephone consultation. You are also invited to scheduled an appointment in one of our New Jersey Offices.
An Overview of Juvenile Assault Charges in New Jersey
It is also important to note the differences in terminology used with juvenile offenders versus adult offenders. When an adult is found guilty of a criminal offense, he or she is convicted of a crime. When a juvenile offender is found guilty, he or she is adjudged as a juvenile delinquent. Being adjudged means that the offender will face penalties, which can include incarceration, fines, restitution, and community service as well as involvement with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, which can include designating a new guardian for the offender or enrolling him or her in an educational program. Such a program may be chosen based on the offender’s needs as determined by the court. It may be a substance abuse rehabilitation program, a psychological counseling program, an educational program that fosters self-reliance skills, or a vocational program. In some cases, the offender’s parent or guardian may also be ordered to complete an educational program. A juvenile offender’s sentence, known as a disposition, is determined by examining the nature of his or her offense, the juvenile’s previous criminal record, an appropriate course of action based on the offender’s developmental and social needs, how the offense impacted the victim and the greater community, and an appropriate course of action that supports the offender’s family unity and safety.
Record of Proceedings. All juvenile delinquency proceedings are conducted in the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. There is no jurisdiction for criminal cases involving minors to be heard in municipal court. Your child’s assault case will have to be sent to the county courthouse where you live to be resolved in the Juvenile Part. The juvenile court is closed to the public and the record of all proceedings are sealed. What this means is that no one other than law enforcement will generally know that your son or daughter was charged or convicted of an assault related offense.
Waiver of a Child to Adult Court. It is possible for a juvenile to be charged as an adult offender in New Jersey. This can be done through a request by the prosecutor of a case, which can be approved or denied by a family court judge following a formal hearing. This is an option if the offender is over the age of 14 and has a previous record of failed rehabilitation attempts. In New Jersey, a prosecutor must demonstrate to the court that charging a juvenile as an adult would deter him or her from future criminal activity more effectively than the penalties he or she would face as a juvenile offender. Alongside this, the prosecutor may also need to demonstrate that trying a juvenile offender as an adult would set an example for other juveniles that would deter them from criminal activity.
Assault & Threat Crimes a Juvenile Can Face in New Jersey
There are multiple types of assault and threat charges in NJ. These include simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and harassment. The sentence that a juvenile can face if he or she is found guilty of one of these or another criminal offense hinges on many factors including the grade of the crime (e.g. first, second, third or fourth degree crime), their prior record and the circumstances of the violation. For example, a simple assault that was elevated to a third degree aggravated assault because it involved minor contact with a teacher (e.g. child pulled away) may not be treated the same as a violent assault falling within the same grade.
No matter which type of assault charge your child is facing, it is important that he or she work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend his or her case. A criminal defense lawyer has an understanding of the juvenile justice system that you and your child do not have. He or she can explain all of your child’s legal options, provide guidance through each step of the process, and advocate for your child by interacting with the court on his or her behalf and coaching your child’s interactions with the court.
Juvenile Simple Assault Charge
Despite its name, a simple assault charge can be quite complicated for the individual facing it. Simple assault is defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 as an attempt to cause, or actually causing due to recklessness or negligence, bodily harm to a victim. Causing a victim to fear for his or her bodily safety is also a form of simple assault, as is negligently causing a victim to suffer bodily harm by a deadly weapon. Examples of simple assaults include fist fights entered by mutual consent, striking an individual intentionally, or threaten someone so that they are in fear of immediate injury. For juvenile offenders in New Jersey, simple assaults are often charged as disorderly persons offenses. Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. A charge falling within this grade is considered a misdemeanor although it has the potential to result in fines, probation, community service and even jail. For more information on simple assault click here.
Juvenile Aggravated Assault Offense
An aggravated assault is an assault that purposely causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury to a victim, either with a deadly weapon or through recklessness or extreme indifference to the victim’s wellbeing. A simple assault committed against a police officer, firefighter, emergency services personnel, educator, Department of Corrections employee, member of the state Supreme Court, Tax Court, or Superior Court, operator of a motorbus, or employee of a utility company may also be charged as an aggravated assault.
N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1, the statute that defines aggravated assault, is applied the same way to juvenile and adult offenders. Although a juvenile can face the dispositions listed in N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43, he or she can also be charged with a second, third, or fourth degree crime and face a term of incarceration of up to three years. Like with adult offenders, the penalties that a juvenile adjudged of aggravated assault faces depend on the degree of his or her offense. If the court determines that the safety of other individuals or community property would be at risk if the juvenile was not detained, the offender may be incarcerated. For additional information on aggravated assault click here.
Call An Experienced New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your child has been charged with any type of assault offense, be an advocate for him or her and start working on his or her legal defense with an experienced New Jersey juvenile criminal defense attorney who has specific experience working with juveniles as soon as possible. It is very important that you work with a lawyer who has experience defending juvenile clients because the criminal justice process can be very different for a juvenile versus an adult offender. To get started on your child’s defense with a member of our firm, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our firm. During your consultation, we will answer your questions and begin to brainstorm effective ways to defend your child against his or her charge. A juvenile conviction can change a young man or woman’s life forever – protect your child’s future by working with a lawyer who can protect him or her from being convicted of an assault charge.