“My child is in trouble. Help!”
The system may seem overwhelming when your minor son or daughter has been charged with a crime and faces juvenile court. One thing you should realize first is that juvenile court is very different from adult criminal court: the purpose and intention of the court is rehabilitation. Although some of the things that could happen to your child or teen may seem punishing, the court’s intent is to rehabilitate and help your juvenile to overcome the behaviors that led to the initial charge.
Another thing you should realize is that your minor child is not only entitled to, but required to have an attorney at various aspects of their involvement with the juvenile justice system. Public defenders are available. If you ask for one, you will be asked to fill out a form 5A that provides information to the court to determine if you are eligible for the free or reduced cost assistance of the public defender. If you are not, you will be required to hire a private attorney.
Certain combinations of offenses, offender and circumstances can lead to your child being classified as an adult and transferred to adult court. This is something you want to definitely avoid when possible, as juvenile records are sealed and adult records are not. Additionally, sentencing is much stiffer and consequences much more severe.
If your juvenile remains in the juvenile justice system, there are a number of directions that his or her matter could take depending on the severity of the crime and the circumstances. Probation, juvenile detention, alcohol or drug treatment, anger management, restitution and a host of other remedies are available to the juvenile court assuming that your child is found guilty or pleas to a charge. It is sometimes wise to negotiate a plea if there is sufficient evidence for the State to make their case. A good attorney can guide you through this system and the challenges and difficulties of each possible option.
At our office, we offer compassionate, non-judgmental consults for minors and their families going through these challenges. We understand that sometimes mistakes happen, and try to mitigate any long term damage. We care deeply for our juvenile clients and their families and understand the holistic concerns of the family in circumstances like these. If you do not qualify for a public defender, or feel that you would be better served by a private attorney, please call our office for a free, private, confidential consultation at one of our offices. We have locations in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, and are happy to discuss your legal options. Call 856-227-7888 or email [email protected].