New Jersey Juvenile Conference Committee

New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer - Anthony N. Palumbo

Union County-Monmouth County-Middlesex County-Ocean County

The juvenile justice system emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment and provides more flexible judicial procedures than are available for adult defendants, encouraging the informal resolution of minor juvenile offenses and offenses committed by first-time offenders. This approach gives law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges broad discretion to treat juvenile offenders in a manner that balances rehabilitation goals against the need to protect the community and impose accountability.

This article provides an overview of diversion options in juvenile delinquency cases, which are informal alternatives to court proceedings. Diversion can benefit juvenile defendants and their families by providing early intervention and faster resolution than the trial process.

To learn more about juvenile diversion and court procedures, contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer, through the email form on my website or at 1-866-664-8118 for a free and confidential consultation. I've been representing juvenile defendants for almost four decades, and as a longstanding member of the legal community, a former prosecutor, and a current criminal defense attorney, I can help get the best results possible in your case.

Court Diversion

Instead of proceeding to court, minor juvenile charges are often diverted to a Juvenile Conference Committee (JCC) or an Intake Service Conference (ISC). Diversion is a voluntary process and the parties may request a formal court hearing if they do not wish to participate.

JCCs are comprised of community residents appointed by the court to review certain delinquency complaints. The committee is tasked with providing balanced attention to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed, fostering interaction and dialogue between the parties, and the development of competencies to enable the juvenile offender to become a responsible and productive member of the community. JCCs do not determine guilt or innocence, but they may propose a resolution imposing appropriate requirements and conditions.

Intake Service Conferences are similar to juvenile conference committees but are conducted by court intake staff. They are used to review slightly more serious delinquency allegations.

Orders issued by JCCs and ISCs are limited to 6 months, and at the end of the diversion period a second conference may be held to determine whether the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled. If all of the conditions have been met, the complaint will be dismissed, whereas if the conditions have not been met, the complaint will be returned to court intake services or referred to a judge.

Juvenile Referees

Juvenile referees may be appointed by the court to hear juvenile cases that do not involve a threat of incarceration. Unlike JCCs and ISCs, referees are authorized to make findings of fact, enter a finding of guilt or innocence, and make recommendations to the judge regarding the appropriate disposition. A juvenile who declines to accept the referee's recommendations may request a new trial before a judge.

Juvenile Adjudication and Sentencing

If a formal proceeding is used instead of diversion, a petition is filed setting out the charges and a court date is set for the child's trial, which is called an adjudication. The judge then hears the case, determines the outcome, and sentences the juvenile. There is no right to a jury in juvenile adjudications, but juvenile defendants do have the right to be represented by legal counsel throughout the judicial process, and they must have an attorney during all formal proceedings.

If a juvenile pleads guilty or is adjudicated delinquent, the judge then determines the appropriate sentence, taking into account the minor's circumstances and the nature of the crime, as well as other aggravating and mitigating factors. In cases involving serious offenses, juveniles may be sentenced to a term of incarceration at a juvenile detention center. Judges have broad discretion in determining the most appropriate dispositions for juvenile offenders, however, and a variety of sentencing options may be deemed preferable to incarceration, including deferred disposition, probation, community service, fines or restitution, house arrest, sentencing to counseling or education programs, psychiatric commitment, or placement in alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs.

Having a Juvenile Defense Lawyer By Your Side

If your child has been arrested for a juvenile offense, it's important to have a juvenile attorney who's familiar with both formal and informal juvenile procedures. I am Anthony N. Palumbo, a partner at the law firm of Palumbo & Renaud and a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer with more than 35 years of legal experience in Union County, Middlesex County, and Monmouth County. I understand the unique procedures used in New Jersey's juvenile court system and I know the best strategies to keep a young person's life on track. To find out how I can help in your case and to schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact me at the law office of Palumbo & Renaud online or at 1-866-664-8118.

More information about Juvenile Offenses: