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.

Heroin Possession Defense Attorney NJ

In the state of New Jersey, it’s illegal to possess any amount of heroin. Heroin possession can
result in up to five years in prison. The fine attendant with Third Degree Heroin Possession
charge is up to $35,000. In the event of a conviction, a person can also face a mandatory six
month drivers license suspension.
Simple Possession vs. Constructive Possession
When it comes to having heroin, here are two main categories of possession: simple and
Simple possession is when a person has knowledge that they have heroin in their pocket. It’s
defined by the awareness that a person who’s carrying heroin has that not only do they have a
drug on them, but that it’s an illegal one.
If a person is holding a bag for a friend but didn’t know that that bag had heroin, they may be
able to escape prosecution simply because they lacked knowledge of what was in the bag.
Constructive possession, however, is defined as possession that isn’t necessarily physical, but
one where the drug can still be linked to the person in some way. For example, if heroin is found
in a hotel room where the individual was staying, then that would be considered constructive
possession. If authorities find a stash of heroin in a drug dealer’s neighbor’s apartment, and they
have evidence that the dealer gave him that heroin, then the dealer would be charged with
constructive possession. Once again, the drug may not be physically on them, as with simple
possession, but the person either had the drug in the past or is keeping it in a location that can
still be linked to them in some way.
Defenses to Heroin Possession
If the person who has the heroin didn’t know they had the heroin in their possession (i.e., they
live with a person who does heroin, or they are unknowingly holding it for a friend), then they
can avoid a court date. This is known as a ‘lack of knowledge’ defense.
Sometimes a court will try to establish a constructive possession claim, in which case the
defendant’s attorney can use a ‘lack of power and intent to control’ argument. For instance, if
you pick up a friend and that friend leaves the car to buy heroin from someone, the defendant
who is accused of having heroin in his car can say he lacked power and intent to control the
heroin placed in his vicinity.
Federal Offenses and State Offenses
A person who is convicted of a first offense of heroin possession, with no prior convictions of
possessions of any narcotic, can be sentenced to one year of prison and fined $1,000. A person
who is convicted of heroin possession who had already faced a prior conviction of the drug may
be sentenced to two years in prison and fined $2,500. Two or more prior convictions can get the
fine increased to $5,000, and the prison sentence will vary based on the quantity of the heroin. A
charge of possession with intent to distribute will greatly increase the penalties.
Heroin Possession Attorney Near Me
Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Herbert I. Ellis are trained to defend anyone who has been
convicted with heroin possession. Whether you were an unwilling party to someone who was
possessing heroin, or were charged with simple possession and are now in need of an attorney,
we will try our hardest to reduce your penalties and get you the outcome that you deserve.
Heroin possession is a serious offense in the state of New Jersey, and we are prepared to come to
the court with a serious argument that can help our clients. If you’ve been charged with heroin
possession, call us today at 888-355-4752 and we’ll listen carefully to your story.

Rear End Vehicle Accident, Man Charged with DWI in Vineland, NJ

A man involved in a car accident in Vineland, NJ rear ended another vehicle last Monday. Identified as Luis Colon of
Millville, NJ. Vineland authorities said he was driving south of Main Road when traffic began to
slow down. Colon allegedly kept going and rear ended a woman in the vehicle ahead of him.
No injuries were reported. However, officials found Colon to be driving while intoxicated,
and charged him with a DWI. Colon is currently pending trial.

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.