Juvenile Offender Will Be Treated Differently Under NJ Senate Bill 2003
- June 5, 2015
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In a move to promote rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, juveniles may receive additional protection from facing trial as adults if New Jersey Senate Bill 2003 (S2003) is passed. The bill pertains to how juveniles facing criminal offenses may be tried, held before and after trial and the level of representation required in hearings to move juvenile matters to the Criminal Part of the Superior Court. Presently, juveniles age 14 and over may be tried as adults. S2003 would raise the minimum age at which a juvenile could be tried as an adult to 15. S2003 would permit juvenile to be tried as adults only for the most serious offenses including criminal homicide; strict liability for drug induced deaths; first-degree robbery; carjacking; sexual assault; second-degree aggravated assault; kidnapping; aggravated arson; certain gang criminality; a crime committed at a time when the juvenile had previously been adjudicated delinquent or confined to an adult correctional facility; violent, aggressive, and willful crimes against another; unlawful possession of a firearm, destructive device or other prohibited weapon; arson; death by auto if the juvenile was operating the vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug (DUI); a violation of N.J.S.2C:35-3, N.J.S.2C:35-4, or N.J.S.2C:35-5; a conspiracy which is a part of a continuing criminal activity and the circumstances of the crimes show the juvenile has knowingly devoted himself to criminal activity as a source of livelihood; an attempt or conspiracy to commit any of certain enumerated acts; theft of an automobile; serious computer criminal activity; distribution of any controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while on any property used for school purposes, or within 1,000 feet of such school property. The State would bear the burden of proving that the nature and circumstances of the charge or the prior record of the juvenile are sufficiently serious that the interests of the public require waiver. Juvenile cases are typically heard in Family Court and, under S2003, they would be entitled to counsel, either private or appointed, during all hearings relating to the transfer of their individual case from the Family Part to the Criminal Part. S2003 would require a prosecutor seeking to move a juvenile matter to the Criminal Part to provide written notice to the Family Part judge setting forth the reasons the transfer is being sought. Additionally, the Family Part judge would be required to undertake their own analysis and then accept or reject the prosecutor’s motion. Juveniles age 14 and over may now be housed with adults but S2003 would prohibit juveniles under 18 from being incarcerated in adult jails or prisons rather than the current limit of 16 years old. At present, juveniles may be placed in solitary confinement for not more than ten days per month. As the concept behind S2003 is rehabilitation first and foremost, solitary confinement of juveniles would be a measure of last resort and heavily restricted. If all other avenues are exhausted and the juvenile remains a threat to facility security or others solitary confinement may be utilized for no more than two consecutive days for juveniles who are 15 years of age, three consecutive days for juveniles ages 16 and 17 and up to a maximum of five days for juveniles age 18 and over. In further accord with the goal of rehabilitation, academic instruction and academic counseling, vocational education, post-secondary educational opportunities, alcohol and narcotics treatment programs, mental health services, medical and dental care, regular contact with the family members, work programs to prepare the juvenile for treatment, re-entry services, and any other services or assistance reasonably related to the rehabilitation of the juvenile shall be provided as appropriate. S2003 is sponsored by Democrats and received no support from the Republican party. The bill passed the Senate and is presently in the Assembly for consideration and revision. If you are a juvenile facing criminal charges your future is at stake and should not be left to chance. Your future and freedom may depend on the outcome of your case making it imperative that you seek experienced defense counsel immediately. For more information about juvenile offenses including drug charges, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in a school zone, assault, sex crimes, school issues, breaking and entering, gang related crimes, burglary or other serious matters visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.