When is a Minor Tried as an Adult in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ?

October 18, 2019

Criminal Law Attorneys serving clients in West Long Branch, Red Bank, Point Pleasant, Wall, and across the Jersey Shore

When is a Minor Tried as an Adult in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ?Youth is a time of exploration, experimentation, and sometimes impulsive behavior. Often poor judgment, as well as prior traumas and undernourished mental health, lead young people to make decisions that cause harm to other people, things, or themselves; and sometimes these actions are considered illegal in a court of law. Though many times juvenile delinquency is the result of childish ignorance and poor judgment, it is important that they learn that there are consequences of their actions. For this, the juvenile justice system is set up to provide milder sentences for illegal actions performed by minors. According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Constitutionally-afforded protections offered juveniles include:

  • advanced notice of the charges
  • the right to counsel
  • the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses
  • the 5th Amendment right to remain silent
  • the 4th amendment protection from illegal search and seizure
  • the right to a probable cause hearing if they are arrested without a warrant

Transferring a Case from Juvenile to Adult Court in NJ

In some cases, however, the severity of the crime committed by the minor, or the regularity with which a youth commits illegal acts, requires that their case be handled in an adult court where the consequences are more severe and carry longer-lasting impact. There are three mechanisms by which a youth crime bypasses the juvenile court and is tried in an adult court:

  • Statutory exclusion – a direct and immediate transfer of a case to adult court based on the severity of the crime committed by a minor, such as murder
  • Judicial waiver – the discretionary transfer of a juvenile case to the adult court by the juvenile judge based on the severity of the crime or the repeated delinquency of the youth
  • Prosecutorial direct-file – a procedure by which the prosecutor seeks a waiver that the case will be tried in an adult court

Automatic Transfer to Adult Court in Monmouth County

The National Institute of Justice and the National Juvenile Defense Center (NJDC) note that statutory exclusion, otherwise known as automatic transfer of a delinquency case to adult court, occurs directly under the following circumstances:

  • severity of the crime committed
  • youth’s a prior legal record
  • youth’s age

If a minor faces an automatic transfer to adult court based on one of the above reasons, they may seek that the transfer is reversed by requesting what is called a reverse waiver or reverse transfer. If the youth is successful in receiving the reverse transfer, the case will be tried in juvenile court though it originally qualified for direct transfer to the adult court system.

Judicial or Prosecutorial Waivers Trying Individual Absent of Juvenile Protections

The incidents of youth arrests are falling nationally, though the frequency with which their cases are transferred to an adult court is rising.

Aside from automatic transfers, there are cases in which a juvenile court judge or prosecutor may use their discretion to determine that the severity of a youth’s actions merit transfer of the case to an adult court. In this case, the judge or prosecutor files for a waiver seeking that the youth be tried absent of juvenile protections.

In New Jersey, a prosecutorial waiver may be requested for a minor of at least 14 years old, according to the Columbia Law Appendix of State Transfer Laws.

Judicial or Prosecutorial Waivers Trying Individual Absent of Juvenile ProtectionsWhen a case is transferred to adult court, a minor now has the legal right to a hearing – a fitness hearing, waiver hearing, or certification – as well as to be represented by an attorney.  They also now have the right to a trial by jury. This addition of a human element could augur well for a youth convicted of a serious crime.

If you or a minor in your life has been convicted of a crime, and the protection of the juvenile court system are being waived automatically or at the beseeching of a judge or prosecutor, contact a member of our legal team today. We will schedule a consultation to review the minor’s rights and options and determine the next steps that support the youth’s legal rights and future.

Contact a Monmouth County New Jersey Juvenile and Criminal Defense Attorney Today

At Chamlin, Rosen, Uliano & Witherington, our attorneys are very experienced with defending minors accused of crimes in towns across West Long Branch, Red Bank, Freehold, Asbury Park, Middletown, Howell, and the greater Monmouth County area, including those charged as adults.

It is important to remember that in the criminal courts minors are given special consideration based on their age and their scientifically proven lack of ability to make sound decision due to their age. Our unique approach focuses on making sure that all our clients are effectively represented, however, we take special care in defending minors given that a criminal conviction can have long-lasting and profound implications on the rest of their lives.

Speak with our firm today in a comprehensive and confidential case assessment regarding your child’s case, please call at 732-440-3950, toll-free at 888-328-9131 or visit our website.