How are Juveniles Treated Differently from Adults in the Criminal Justice System?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over 200,000 juveniles are prosecuted for crimes ranging from shoplifting and vandalism to assault, sexual offenses, and other violent crimes. However, because these individuals are still children who may not fully understand the laws and consequences of their actions, they are usually treated differently than adults by the criminal justice system. Juveniles tend to face less severe penalties than an adult who committed the same crime because they have a different set of constitutional rights. When sentencing a juvenile for a crime, the judge must follow sentencing guidelines that protect the interests of the child. If a child has been accused of a crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will review the details of the case and recommend the best legal course of action.

Who is Considered a Juvenile by Law?

Depending on the state, a juvenile is a person between the ages of 10 and 18 who commits an illegal act. Children under the age of 10 cannot enter the juvenile justice system. There are circumstances in which a minor may be treated as an adult. For example, if a 15-year-old committed murder, he or she may be treated as an adult, especially if the crime was particularly violent or involved sexual assault. A minor who has a record of delinquent activity, or who refuses to participate in any rehabilitative activities, may also be tried as an adult. The court will also consider a range of other factors when considering whether to send a juvenile case to adult court, including the juvenile’s cognitive development, his or her level of maturity, the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the juvenile, evidence of mental health concerns, the court’s ability to impose an appropriate punishment, and whether the juvenile is a danger to the public. In New Jersey, a juvenile who is at least 15 years of age can be tried as an adult for certain offenses, including the following:

  • Criminal homicide
  • First-degree robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Carjacking
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated arson
  • Possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes
  • Possessing a weapon while committing certain drug offenses
  • Leading a narcotic trafficking network

Differences Between Adult and Juvenile Criminal Court

There are key differences between adult and juvenile crimes, which will have a significant impact on how the court will handle the case and the punishment that will be imposed on the juvenile who committed the crime. The following are some of the main differences:

  • Complaint versus petition: In an adult criminal case, a complaint is filed, whereas a petition is filed in a juvenile case.
  • Delinquent acts versus crimes: Adults are convicted of a crime, whereas in juvenile court, the child is considered to have committed a delinquent act.
  • Adjudication versus conviction: If an adult is found guilty of a crime, the offender is convicted. If the offender is a juvenile, he or she is considered an adjudicated delinquent.
  • Disposition versus sentence: If an adult offender is found guilty in a criminal case, there will be a sentencing to determine the punishment. In juvenile court, there will be a disposition to determine the punishment. Unlike adults who can face life in prison for particularly serious crimes, juveniles cannot.
  • No jury: In juvenile cases, there are no juries. Although this means that the trials are less time-consuming, it also means that the juvenile will not benefit from multiple fact finders. In addition, the prosecutor must only convince the judge of the child’s guilt, rather than an entire jury. Juveniles also do not have the right to bail.
  • Location of disposition: In an adult case, all hearings are held in the county where the defendant was charged, which is usually where the crime took place. A juvenile case is held in the county where the crime occurred. This is also where the case will be tried, unless the child lives in a different county, in which case the disposition will be moved to the child’s county of residence.
  • Rehabilitation versus punishment: The juvenile court system makes a concerted effort to take steps to rehabilitate the child, rather than focus solely on punishment. The system emphasizes treatment options, therapy, and education to help the child make lasting, positive changes.
  • Open versus closed hearings: All adult hearings are open to the public, whereas juvenile hearings are closed. In most cases, it is only the lawyers, probation, the child, and his or her family who are present.
  • Juvenile cases involve family members: Unlike adult cases, where the lawyer deals only with the person charged, juvenile cases will involve the child’s parents or guardians. The lawyer will need to interact with family members to ensure that the child follows through with the advice given.
  • Expungements: Juvenile records are sealed, and a juvenile can request an expungement at any time. There are several restrictions that adults face when filing for an expungement, making it more difficult.

Similarities Between Adult and Juvenile Crimes

Although there are major differences between adult and juvenile crimes, and how they are handled in court, there are some similarities between the two, including the following:

  • Both have the right to a trial or hearing, and an attorney.
  • Adults and juveniles have the right to call witnesses and to cross-examine and confront the individuals who brought charges against them.
  • Both have the right to avoid self-incrimination.
  • Both have the right to be made aware of the changes against them.
  • In both cases, the prosecution must prove the charges against them beyond a reasonable doubt.

Examples of Effective Rehabilitation Programs for Juveniles

Depending on the crime that was committed, juveniles may be detained in a juvenile detention center. In addition, the court may require him or her to perform community service and complete parole as part of the rehabilitation. The goal is to rehabilitate and help integrate them back into their community. The more support the juvenile has available, the better he or she will be able to make better choices. As a result, family, friends, and other positive role models play a large part in the rehabilitation process. The type of rehabilitation program used will depend on the crime that the juvenile committed and the child’s willingness to participate. The following are examples of rehabilitation programs that have proved to be effective:

  • Drug treatment programs: Juvenile offenders that are involved in drug crimes are often required to participate in a drug treatment program and comply with random drug tests after program completion. They must also attend meetings if it is part of the court’s sentencing. Outpatient treatment generally continues for at least a year to prevent any relapses.
  • Educational programs: There are a range of educational programs that offer juvenile offenders a path to success, and the option of a legitimate career path that does not involve crime. Education is a key component of any juvenile rehabilitation program, as it allows the child to obtain a GED or a high school diploma. Some facilities will assist juvenile offenders with taking classes at a community college.
  • Vocational training programs: Another key measure of any rehabilitation program, vocational training provides an additional component to formal education. Apprenticeships and job training in areas such as carpentry, mechanics, and electronics can set the juvenile on a path toward a legitimate and rewarding career.
  • Counseling programs: Individual counseling allows the juvenile offender to have a one-on-one interaction with a counselor who has experience with at-risk youths. If there are family issues that contributed to the child’s behavior, the counselor can help the child work through some of these issues. Family counseling is also effective, particularly when family members are supportive and want the best for their child. This can help motivate the child to make positive choices going forward.

Freehold Criminal Defense Lawyers at Ellis Law Advocate for Juveniles Facing Criminal Charges

If your child committed a crime, it is in your best interest to contact the Freehold criminal defense lawyers at Ellis Law at your earliest convenience. We will review the charges that have been brought against your child and determine the best legal course of action. We will work closely with you to develop an effective legal strategy that protects your child’s rights and provides the best opportunity for rehabilitation. To set up a free case evaluation, call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. Headquartered in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, New Jersey, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

What Should I Know About Resisting Arrest in New Jersey?

Resisting arrest is a crime in New Jersey. If you are convicted of resisting arrest, you will have a criminal record that can negatively impact your ability to find a job or buy property. If you are accused of a resisting arrest, your wisest course of action is to seek the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer who will work aggressively to have the charges reduced or dismissed. This can mean the difference between a bright future and being denied many opportunities that you otherwise would have enjoyed.

Why Do Individuals Resist Arrest?

Law enforcement officers must follow specific protocol when confronting an individual while on duty, which includes announcing their intentions. When an officer indicates that they intend to arrest someone, that individual has an obligation to cooperate. However, individuals may feel the need to resist for several reasons, including the following:

  • They believe they have done nothing wrong and/or the officer has the wrong person
  • They believe the officer is using excessive force or unnecessarily harsh tactics
  • They know they are guilty, and they want to avoid arrest
  • They misunderstood the officer’s intentions, perhaps because they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs

It is important to note that police officers can be acting lawfully even when arresting the wrong person. As a result, it is illegal for a person to resist arrest, even if they have done nothing wrong. It is important to refrain from giving into your natural inclination to run away or argue with the officer. Raising your voice and shouting threats may easily be construed as resisting arrest, even if you do not run away or physically struggle.

New Jersey Laws Governing Resisting Arrest

Laws governing resisting arrest vary by state. In New Jersey, Section 2C:29-2 describes four levels of severity of this crime, listed from least to most egregious:

Disorderly persons. An individual may be charged with disorderly conduct if they attempted to prevent or purposely prevented a law enforcement officer from carrying through with an arrest. The penalty for this offense is up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.00.

Fourth degree. If the individual attempted to flee the scene and created a risk of injury to the police officer, the crime may be upgraded to the fourth degree. This is considered an indictable felony in New Jersey; as a result, it will be handled in New Jersey Superior Court. The penalty is up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Third degree. There are three ways in which resisting arrest can be considered a crime of the third degree:

  • The person used or threatened to use physical force or violence against the law enforcement officer or another.
  • The person caused physical injury to the officer or someone else.
  • The person knowingly fled using a motor vehicle after the officer made it known that they wanted the person to bring the vehicle or vessel to a stop. This crime carries a penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $15,000.00.

Second degree. If the person created a risk of death or injury to any person when they were attempting to flee, they may be convicted of a crime in the second degree. This penalty adds suspension of the individual’s driver’s license.

Defending a Charge of Resisting Arrest

In many situations, there is no clear legal standard for determining whether an individual actually resisted arrest. Law enforcement officers may be using subjective judgment in determining that an individual was not immediately obeying their orders. Other issues to consider when defending the charge include the following:

  • Use of excessive force. Although police officers are entitled to use force to subdue a suspect and accomplish an arrest, there are instances in which officers have acted violently when there was no need to do so. To successfully defend against the charge of resisting arrest, the individual being arrested must not have acted violently unless the officer did so first.
  • Lack of harm. The severity of the crime often hinges upon whether the suspect created a risk of injury to the officer. This can be difficult to determine if the attempted arrest was not captured on video.
  • Factual error. This is a difficult defense to mount, as the defendant is saying that the officer’s account of the incident is not true.

In any defense, the person charged with resisting arrest will have a stronger case if they can show that they exercised self-restraint and used force necessary only because the officer was acting unreasonably.

Proving the Charges of Resisting Arrest

There is a wide range of behaviors that may be characterized as resisting arrest. Refusing to answer an officer’s questions or disagreeing with an officer in a non-threatening manner will likely not be viewed as resisting arrest. However, verbal threats of harm and physically assaulting an officer are most likely indictable. There are, however, many gray areas. Did the officers make their intentions clear? Is there a possibility of police misconduct? These are some questions that an experienced criminal defense lawyer may ask when building a strategy for defending against charges of resisting arrest.

Gray Areas

In situations of resisting arrest, gray areas abound. In the case of State v. Stampone, 341 N.J. Super. 247 (App.Div.2001), a man was charged with a disorderly persons offense for failing to show his driver’s license to a police officer. The man had parked his car in a nice residential neighborhood; his car had an out-of-state license plate. An officer approached him and questioned why the man was there. The man said he was waiting for his girlfriend to arrive home. The officer asked the man to produce his driver’s license, but the man said it was in the trunk of the car. It happened to be raining, and the man was reluctant to get the license. When he did, the man returned to his car with an envelope, closed the door, and reached over to the passenger side.

The officer opened the door and positioned his body next to the car. The man then shut the door on the police officer’s legs. The officer reopened the door and pulled the man by his arm; the man cursed at the officer but then gave him the envelope with his driver’s license. The officer ran a check on the license; all was in order. The man’s girlfriend arrived home and identified the man as her boyfriend. The man then said he wanted an ambulance because his shoulder hurt. When the ambulance arrived, the officer arrested him for disorderly conduct and failure to produce a driver’s license.

In this situation, both parties contributed to the ultimate outcome; the police officer overreacted, and the individual aggravated the situation by being rude to the officer. The first time that the court tried this case, the defendant was convicted. However, the defendant appealed; in the end, the defendant’s convictions were reversed, and the charges were dismissed.

Defending Charges of Resisting Arrest

Cases involving resisting arrest in New Jersey require a determined and thorough attorney to craft a winning defense strategy. Facts may be in dispute, and both parties may have contributed to the eventual outcome. Often, tempers flare and angry words are exchanged. It is not always clear-cut what is excessive force. Our criminal defense attorneys have experience defending clients in cases in which the facts may be in dispute and/or intentions of both parties may be interpreted in different ways. When we prepare a defense, we anticipate the arguments that prosecutors may make. This aids us in building a strategy for winning in the courtroom.

Freehold Criminal Defense Lawyers at Ellis Law Aggressively Defend Individuals Charged with Resisting Arrest in New Jersey

A successful defense against charges of resisting arrest requires meticulous investigation to prove the difference between innocence and guilt. The Freehold criminal defense lawyers at Ellis Law are relentless in crafting a winning defense strategy for each client they represent. If you are facing criminal charges, call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

Camden Cocaine Dealer Gets Eight Years in Prison

A Camden man who sold crack cocaine to an undercover police officer was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison, officials said.  Nafeez “Feez” Griffin, 31, will also be subjected to three years of supervised release after finishing his sentence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. 

Griffin was part of a drug dealing organization when he sold the narcotics on Lansdowne Avenue in the city on Nov. 30, 2015, authorities said. He was charged Sept. 9, 2016 after a lengthy investigation by the FBI’s South Jersey Violent Offender and Gang Task Force.

He pleaded guilty in June to distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Fellow members of the crew supplied drugs to Griffin and he made separate crack deals, according to court filings.

Authorities said the investigation led law enforcement officers to seize two handguns used by members of the drug distribution crew as well as narcotics. Investigators also used court-approved wiretaps to intercept cell phones used by members of the ring.


Man Faces 20 Years for Armed Robbery at Vineland Bank

A man faces 20 years in state prison for holding up a Vineland bank four years ago, authorities say.

Leonard Johnson, 53, of Millville was found guilty in Superior Court this week of first-degree armed robbery, according to Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae.

Authorities say Johnson went into the Susquehanna Bank at the intersection of Garden Road and Delsea Drive on April 24, 2013, where he gave a teller a note demanding money and told her he had a gun.

He then fled the area on a bicycle, Webb-McRae said. Authorities did not say how much cash he got.

Johnson was arrested after a joint investigation involving the Vineland Police Department, New Jersey State Police and the FBI.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 3. Along with facing 20 years in prison, Johnson will be subject to the No Early Release Act, Webb-McRae said.

The three-week trial was held before Superior Court Judge Cristen D’Arrigo. Elizabeth Vogelsong prosecuted the case and attorney Terry Stomel represented Johnson.


Man Charged in Armed Robbery of Pennsville Market

Authorities say they have arrested the armed man who is accused of holding up Rachel’s Market early Friday morning.
Juan Garduno-Reza, 23, of Penns Grove has been charged with robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and theft in the incident,
Pennsville Chief of Police Allen J. Cummings said Sunday.
Thanks to an anonymous tip through social media, officers tracked Garduno-Reza down to a home on Miramar Drive in Pennsville where he ultimately was arrested Saturday,
according to Cummings.
Garduno-Reza had outstanding warrants against him.

Car Damaged by Gunfire in Jersey City

A car was damaged by gunfire early Sunday morning, officials said.

Shots were fired near Communipaw Avenue and Van Horne Street at about 3 a.m., city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said.

No one was injured or arrested in the shooting, she said.

Jersey Journal freelance photographer was at the scene at about 10 a.m., where police were removing a car that was struck by multiple bullets.

2 Injured in Drive-By Shooting in Trenton

Police say two people were injured in a shooting Sunday and a man was arrested on unrelated weapons charges at the scene.
The shooting happened around 5 p.m. on the 800 block of Stuyvesant Avenue, police said.
Officers responding to a report of shots fired found casings and later received information that two men — ages 17 and 24 — arrived at Capital Health Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds.
They told police they were in the area when a dark-colored vehicle drove by and began shooting at them, police said. Both were shot in the torso, but are in stable condition, police said.
The Shooting Response Team continues to investigate.
While detectives were investigating Sunday, police say a “highly intoxicated” man tried to enter the crime scene and was behaving in a “tumultuous” manner.
He was armed with a knife and spat at officers trying to take him into custody, police said.
Kyle Stephen, 51, is charged with throwing bodily fluid on a law enforcement officer, weapons offenses, improper behavior and obstructing the administration of law.

Man Shot to Death on Trenton Street

Detectives are investigating the death of a man who was shot on East State Street Monday night, officials said.

Police officers, firefighters, and EMS were sent to the 1100 block of East State Street, near North Olden Avenue, at about 10:15 p.m. and found a man shot multiple times, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

The man was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later at a city hospital, officials said.

The victim was not immediately identified, and police said Tuesday no arrests had been made in the investigation.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide Task Force is leading the investigation.

A 68-year- old man was killed in an apartment fire Tuesday morning, authorities said. 

Tyrone Heard was found in his first-floor apartment at the Seth Boyden Apartments when firefighters went in to extinguish the blaze, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D.

Laurino and Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said.

He was pronounced dead at 1:33 a.m. after officials were notified of the fire at 12:55 a.m., authorities said.

The cause of Heard’s death is pending an autopsy.

The Newark Fire Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide and Major Crimes Task Force are investigating the blaze.

Two Men Wounded in Plainfield Shooting

Two men were injured in a shooting in Plainfield on Monday afternoon.
The two victims were hit by gunfire at 1:30 pm near the corner of West Fourth and Liberty
streets. Police say both men were targeted by the shooter.
A car involved in the shooting has been located—however, no arrests have been made.
Neither man was willing to cooperate with the police. Both were hospitalized with injuries that
weren’t considered to be life threatening