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.

Can I Receive a DUI Charge for Prescription Drugs?

It is illegal in the U.S. to drive under the influence (DUI) of any potentially impairing drug, which includes legal prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, as well as alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and methamphetamines. Motorists can be charged with DUI of prescription drugs. However, motorists may be able to have charges reduced or eliminated entirely with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Driving under the influence is illegal but is not uncommon. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) periodically conducts studies across the country to identify potentially impaired drivers. The NTHSA recently found that 20 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Many of those tested positive for prescription drugs. In fact, a much higher percentage of drivers tested during the daytime exhibited the presence of prescription drugs in their system. Millions of Americans use legal prescription drugs daily to calm their anxiety or get to sleep. Alcohol or illegal substances are more commonly used recreationally over the weekends.

Legal Basis for DUI Charges

Drivers can get in legal trouble for driving while impaired. State laws allow police officers to charge a driver with DUI using one of the following two grounds:

  • Per se. A per se charge is based upon the concentration of a substance in the blood. If a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test reveals a percentage of 0.08 percent or higher, that is grounds for a per se charge, even if the driver did not appear impaired. Some states established BAC tests for other substances, including marijuana, meth, or other drugs. Even if a driver is not visibly impaired, if a blood test shows an illegal concentration of a particular substance, they can be charged.
  • This charge is based on the effects the substance had on the driver. If a driver ran off the road because they became impaired, they can still be charged with DUI. The basis for this type of charge hinges on Field Sobriety Tests or the arresting officer’s testimony rather than a blood test.

Per se charges are usually not applied in prescription drug cases, as there are no sound methods to test for many medicines, including Ativan, Percocet, Valium, and Xanax. Impairment charges are more commonly applied to prescription drug DUIs. Common signs of impairment include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, an inability to focus, and decreased hand-eye coordination. Anyone taking prescription drugs should know and understand the warning labels that come with the medication. If the warnings caution against driving or operating heavy machinery, consumers may be at risk of impairment at any time.

Field Sobriety Tests

If a driver is pulled over by a police officer for a potential DUI violation, they may be asked to undergo a standard Field Sobriety Test, which may include any of the following:

  • Touching the finger to the nose
  • Counting backwards
  • Standing on one leg
  • Picking up coins
  • Walking and turning
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Throwing or catching a ball

The officer may also administer the horizontal gaze-nystagmus test. Nystagmus is an involuntary twitching of the eye. During the test, an officer may ask the suspect to gaze at a moving object, such as a flashlight or finger. If the officer notes a distinct and sustained twitching prior to 45 degrees, that may be used as evidence of intoxication. However, this test has been criticized for several reasons, including physical conditions not related to intoxication that may cause nystagmus. Officers may also rely on other signs of impairment, including blood-shot eyes, slurred speech, inability to focus, and erratic driving. Although every state allows officers to charge drivers with impairment DUIs, the level of impairment required for a viable charge varies by state.

Defending DUI Charges Involving Prescription Drugs

For someone to be charged with DUI for prescription drugs, the arresting officer must prove drugs were in the driver’s system and that the level of the driver’s impairment created a danger to those on the road. The police officer may look for evidence of drugs in the car, including Xanax, Valium, Vicodin, or similar drugs. If drugs are found in the vehicle, the officer can ask the driver to produce a valid prescription. If a driver was charged with DUI while using prescription drugs, there are two steps they may need to take to mount a defense:

  • Provide a sound, alternative explanation for any indications of impairment that may have been reported by the police officer.
  • Provide proof that they were following all instructions provided by a doctor when taking the prescribed medicine.

A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help drivers challenge the validity of field sobriety tests, either by demonstrating flaws in the test itself or in the way the test was administered. For example, allergies may cause blood-shot eyes, or a disability or injury may cause slurred speech or nystagmus.

If the prescription drug they are taking is relatively new, one possible defense is that the manufacturer did not provide adequate warning about the possible side effects of impaired driving.

Other Defenses Against DUI

Defendants charged with any type of DUI may also pursue other avenues for having the charges reduced or dismissed, including the following:

  • No reasonable suspicion
  • Flaws or inconsistencies in the arresting officer’s observations

A reasonable suspicion for pulling someone over may include speeding, driving too slowly, or making an illegal turn. Under the Fourth Amendment, an officer cannot pull over a driver unless there is reasonable suspicion. Lacking these, a skilled attorney may be able to successfully argue that there was no probable cause for the arrest. Cases may also succeed or fail because of the arresting officer’s observations of the defendant’s condition at the time of arrest.

Penalties for DUI While Using Prescription Drugs

Penalties for DUI in New York and New Jersey include jail time, fines, license suspension, and insurance surcharges. In New Jersey, prescription drugs are legally categorized as narcotics. The penalties for a DUI while using prescription drugs are equivalent to those for alcohol, including the following, according to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety:

If an offender’s BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, but less than 0.10 percent, the penalties are as follows:

  • A fine of $250 to $400
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Driver’s license forfeiture until ignition interlock installed
  • Minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for three years

If the offender’s BAC is 0.10 percent, but less than 0.15 percent, the penalties are as follows:

  • A fine of $300 to $500
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Driver’s license forfeiture until ignition interlock installed
  • Minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an IDRC
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for three years

Offenders with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher face the same penalties as above, but they must also install an ignition interlock device in one vehicle they principally operate during the license suspension period of four to six months and for a period of nine to 15 months after license restoration. For second and third offenses, fines are increased, as well as possible jail time. License suspension is automatic, and automobile surcharges increase as well.

A DUI charge can ruin one’s reputation, their finances, and the entire course of their life. However, a DUI charge does not have to result in a conviction. The laws are complex; hiring the right lawyer can make all the difference between a brighter future and jail time, losing one’s license, and even losing one’s job.

Freehold Criminal Defense Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Those Charged with Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

Drunk driving offenses can impact your driving record, your car insurance costs, and your future. If you were charged with DUI while using prescription drugs, take the steps necessary to protect your best interests. The Freehold criminal defense lawyers at Ellis Law possess more than two decades of legal experience in the courts of New Jersey and New York. We will work to reduce or eliminate the charges against you. Call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online.

Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we offer virtual consultations at no charge to clients in 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.


DUI Attorney Englishtown – Drug Charges Lawyer, Criminal Attorney NJ

In Englishtown NJ client was charged with Possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia  in a motor vehicle.  He was also charged with Speeding, failure to signal, no seat belt, failure to possess registration, obstruction of windshield.

Pled to: Conditional discharge, a borough ordinance, unsafe driving (which carries 0 points on the license) and no seat belt ticket.

DUI and DWI Attorney NJ

Violation of New York and New Jersey drinking and driving laws is a serious traffic offense.

These violations include driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), and
refusal to perform a breath test. If you have been cited for a DUI, DWI or other municipal court
offense, the possibility of going to court and facing significant penalties may be daunting. While
municipal court offenses are not as serious as other criminal offenses in New Jersey or New
York, they can still have a large impact on your driving record. Drunk driving offenses can also
affect your automobile insurance and your future. It is important to protect your interests by
hiring a knowledgeable lawyer.

The New Jersey Drunk Driving Statute States:
– A person cannot operate a motorized vehicle while under the influence of a habit
producing drug, hallucinogenic, narcotic, or intoxicating liquor.
– A person is deemed intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or
higher by weight of blood
– A person cannot permit the operation of a motorized vehicle by another person who is
under the influence of a habit producing drug, hallucinogenic, narcotic, or intoxicating

Penalties of violation of the New Jersey Drunk Driving Statute include:
– First Offense DWI or DUI Violation: A fine of $250 to $400, mandatory participation in
programs at an Intoxicated Driving Resource Center (IDRC), possible license suspension
of up to 1 year, and up to 30 days in jail.
– Second Offense DWI or DUI Violation: A fine of $500 to $1000, up to 30 days of
community service, possible license suspension of up to 2 years, and up to 90 days in
– Third Offense DWI or DUI Violation: A $1000 fine, possible license suspension of up to
10 years, and up to 6 months in jail

Responsibilities of the State in a DUI/DWI Case
To prove violation of drinking and driving law, the State must provide proof of both intoxication
and of operating a motor vehicle. The State must show proof of intoxication or illegal drugs
in the defendant’s system. In addition, the state must provide proof a motor vehicle and of
operation of that motor vehicle to determine violation of the law.

Proving Operation of a Motor Vehicle

To determine vehicle operation the State often uses circumstantial evidence or actual
observation of the operator. Physical movement of a vehicle is not essential to satisfying the
requirement of operation. Evidence that the vehicle was capable of movement and that the
motorist had the intention to operate the vehicle is often enough to satisfy this requirement.
Evidence that that the vehicle was running or that the defendant inserted keys into the ignition

of the vehicle is usually enough for the State to establish intent to operate. The attorneys at
the Law Offices of Herbert I. Ellis, P.C., are well versed in the complications surrounding the
determination of operation.

Proving the Motorist was Under the Influence

In addition to proving the suspect actually operated or intended to operate a vehicle,
the state is also responsible for proving the person was under the influence of alcohol or
illegal substances. Being under the influence or intoxication is defined by New Jersey law
as “substantial deterioration or diminution of the mental faculties or physical capabilities of
a person” as a result of ingesting drugs or alcohol. Breath tests or blood tests are the most
common ways to determine alcohol intoxication. A blood alcohol context of at least 0.08%, the
legal limit, is necessary to prove intoxication. The breathalyzer is most commonly used in New
York and New Jersey to test breath samples for intoxication. The Alcotest is a newer method of
testing the breath for intoxication. However, there is current pending litigation regarding the
use of breath sample results from the Alcotest and admissibility of such results in DUI and DWI

Inability to determine intoxication using either blood or a breath sample may lead to field
sobriety testing to determine intoxication. Also known as psycho-physical testing, a law
enforcement officer may attempt to establish intoxication of a person using behavioral tests.
There is a certain inconsistency to field sobriety testing such as improper administration by the
law enforcement officer or subjective interpretation of the results.

In addition to intoxication from alcohol, a DUI summons may be a result of ingestion of illegal
drugs. To prove ingestion of illegal drugs, the state often relies on evidence from a trained and
certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). The state also requires urine or blood test results to
confirm the suspect had illegal drugs in their system.

Drinking and driving cases in New York and New Jersey may also involve sentencing
discrepancies which we can in some cases can work for the best possible result. The
breathalyzer readings can greatly affect the sentencing of a drinking and driving case. A Blood
Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reading of below 0.10% for first time offenders may in some cases
reduce the penalty or length of time the license is suspended. At the Law Offices of Herbert I.
Ellis, P.C., we will work toward having your BAC readings reduced or excluded to receive the
minimum sentence for the charge. Prior convictions can also affect sentencing. If you have a
prior drinking and driving case that resulted in a DWI charge, your second DWI case resulting
in a Refusal charge can involve more severe sentencing as this is a second offense. However,

if your first case resulted in a conviction for a Refusal rather than a DWI charge, you must be
sentenced as a first offender for the second DWI charge.

It is imperative to contact an attorney in New Jersey and New York that has experience in
handling DWI, DUI, and Refusal charges. Defenses against drinking and driving charges may
include lack of reasonable suspicion or lack of probable cause to stop a driver and test for
intoxication. Lack of a proper inspection, no certification of a breathalyzer machine, and illegal
traffic stops may also be suitable defenses in a drinking and driving case. Being arrested for
driving under the influence is not the end of the battle. Our DUI defense attorneys work with
you to learn all the facts about your traffic stop. We also investigate the matter further to
determine whether the breath tests were administered properly, if sobriety test protocols were
correctly followed and whether your Miranda warnings were given. If you have been charged
with a DUI or DWI, contact the experienced attorneys at Law Offices of Herbert I. Ellis, P.C. We
have experience and expertise in DUI, DWI, and other municipal court offenses and we will
examine all possible defenses in your case to help find you the resolution you deserve.