Ask an Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorney – Do You Need to Hire an Attorney for a Juvenile Criminal Matter?
Should you hire an attorney to represent your teenager?
When a teenager is charged with a crime such as theft, vandalism, drug possession, or shoplifting, the consequences can have very real effects on their future. Even though court proceedings and criminal records are sealed for juveniles, there are still fines, detentions, treatment programs, juvenile probation, and instances where children are taken from their homes or the custody of their parents.
For that reason, it is mandatory under New Jersey State Law that all juveniles be represented by an attorney in regards to criminal charges. Similarly to the adult court system, if a family cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be afforded to you. There is a hearing required in juvenile cases specifically to state whether the family is going to hire an attorney or whether they qualify to have an attorney provided for them. If you are going to have an attorney represent you, it is a good idea to have them represent you at this hearing. Further, if you decide to retain an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney, it is best to involve them in the defense of your child’s case as soon as possible. They can begin working immediately to challenge evidence and prepare the defense of your child’s case for every step along the way.
What rights does a juvenile have?
Juveniles who have been arrested and charged with a crime have many of the same rights as adults in the same position. A juvenile will have the right to legal representation and present a defense in much the same way an adult who has been arrested would. They have the right to remain silent and cross-examine witnesses and challenge evidence. One glaring difference is that juveniles do not have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. Cases involving a juvenile charged with a crime are handled by a judge in family court. All court records and proceedings from family court involving juveniles are sealed.
What are some common juvenile crimes handled in family court
As you can expect, teenagers will often act out in such a way that certain types of crimes are very common in family court. These include underage drinking, vandalism, theft, fighting, assault of a family member, trespassing, and drug possession. The judges that preside over juvenile criminal cases see these types of matters all the time. Experienced juvenile defense attorneys see these types of cases frequently as well. If you decide to retain an attorney, they should be able to tell you exactly what you can expect and what type of consequences your child will be facing.
If your child has been arrested and charged as a juvenile, either in Atlantic City or any of the counties in South Jersey, contact us today. The Law Offices of Joseph Lombardo has been representing teenagers charged with crimes since 1993. Mr. Lombardo was previously a Municipal Court Prosecutor and can prepare the the best defense of your child’s case against the charges they have against them. We offer free initial consultations in which Mr. Lombardo will personally meet with you to discuss your child’s case and explain in plain English what you can expect.