As a New Jersey juvenile defense attorney, I speak with teenagers, children, and parents on a near-daily basis, all of whom are fearing for their future. A major reason for this fear comes from confusion about the legal process, which is filled with complex terminology.
To help clear up some of this confusion, the New Jersey Courts have provided a comparative chart that shows many adult criminal terms alongside their juvenile equivalent. I want to discuss some of the terms here to better help you understand the juvenile system.
- Criminal term: Arrest
- Juvenile term: Taking juvenile into custody
- Criminal term: Conviction
- Juvenile term: Adjudication of delinquency
- Criminal term: Sentence
- Juvenile term: Disposition
- Criminal term: Indictment
- Juvenile term: No equivalent: a juvenile is charged with an offense without an indictment process.
- Criminal terms: Jail, prison, or incarceration
- Juvenile terms: Secure facility, youth house, detention center, or juvenile justice institutions
- Criminal term: Pretrial intervention program
- Juvenile term: Diversion—Juvenile Conference Committee or Intake Services Conference
According to the courts, diversion is the process of removing minor juvenile cases from the full judicial process on the condition that the accused juvenile participates successfully in a rehabilitative process. This could be a juvenile conference committee or juvenile intake conference. If the diversion is met, the case is typically dismissed without an appearance before a judge.
As you can see, the terminology surrounding juvenile defense further complicates an already difficult time. If your child has been charged with a crime in New Jersey, be sure to seek the help of an experienced New Jersey juvenile defense attorney to help guide you through these tough circumstances and fight for the best outcome for your child or teenager.