Representing juveniles in court poses unique challenges to defense attorneys. For example, even the terms used in New Jersey Juvenile Court differ somewhat for those used in Adult criminal court.

Some commonly used NJ juvenile delinquency terms are defined in NJSA 2A:4A-22.

As used in New Jersey juvenile law:

a. “Juvenile” means an individual who is under the age of 18 years.

b. “Adult” means an individual 18 years of age or older.

c. “Detention” means the temporary care of juveniles in physically restricting facilities pending court disposition.

d. “Shelter care” means the temporary care of juveniles in facilities without physical restriction pending court disposition.

e. “Commit” means to transfer legal custody to an institution.

f. “Guardian” means a person, other than a parent, to whom legal custody of the child has been given by court order or who is acting in the place of the parent or is responsible for the care and welfare of the juvenile.

g. “Juvenile-family crisis” means behavior, conduct or a condition of a juvenile, parent or guardian or other family member which presents or results in (1) a serious threat to the well-being and physical safety of a juvenile, or (2) a serious conflict between a parent or guardian and a juvenile regarding rules of conduct which has been manifested by repeated disregard for lawful parental authority by a juvenile or misuse of lawful parental authority by a parent or guardian, or (3) unauthorized absence by a juvenile for more than 24 hours from his home, or (4) a pattern of repeated unauthorized absences from school by a juvenile subject to the compulsory education provision of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

h. “Repetitive disorderly persons offense” means the second or more disorderly persons offense committed by a juvenile on at least two separate occasions and at different times.

i. “Court” means the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part unless a different meaning is plainly required.

j. “Commission” means the Juvenile Justice Commission established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1995, c.284

Delinquent acts under former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4-44 are generally limited to those violative of criminal or quasi-criminal enactments, and the general incorrigibility category of conduct is encompassed by former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4-45 (now N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22). State v. Bowen, 154 N.J. Super. 368, 381 A.2d 409, 1977 N.J. Super. LEXIS 1182 (App.Div. 1977).

Excepts from some well-known juvenile cases:

Juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis as defined under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22(g) is distinguished from a delinquent in that a juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis is considered self-destructive, and the officer acts “in loco parentis” to protect the juvenile. State in Interest of J.G., 227 N.J. Super. 324, 547 A.2d 336, 1988 N.J. Super. LEXIS 329 (Ch.Div. 1988).

Pursuant to former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4-43 (now N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22), which express the New Jersey juvenile court’s jurisdiction in terms of age limitations and proscribed actions rather that territorial limitations, the New Jersey juvenile court had jurisdiction over a juvenile who was housed on a federal military enclave and who committed delinquent acts on the federal enclave, where the act of the federal authorities in bringing a petition in a New Jersey juvenile court was the equivalent of a surrender of the juvenile to the jurisdiction of New Jersey pursuant to 18 U.S.C.S. § 5001. State in Interest of S., 137 N.J. Super. 371, 349 A.2d 105, 1975 N.J. Super. LEXIS 573 (App.Div. 1975).

Placing a 21-year-old individual on probation with a condition he complete sex offender treatment as a result of actions involving a sexual assault against his younger sister he committed when he was a teenager was entirely within the juvenile court’s authority. However, the juvenile court erred by ordering the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) to effectuate that disposition and pay for such services as the limited situations that the DYFS’s services explicitly were extended to individuals who were between the ages of 18 and 21 did not include the 21 year old’s case since he nor his family had ever had any connection with the DYFS prior to the ordered disposition. State ex rel. J.S., 2010 N.J. LEXIS 547 (N.J. July 8 2010).

Former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4-43(d) (now N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22(d) defines shelter care as the temporary care of juveniles in facilities without physical restriction pending court disposition of the juvenile proceedings. State in Interest of M.S., 73 N.J. 238, 374 A.2d 445, 1977 N.J. LEXIS 200 (1977).

Under former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4-43 (now N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22), 18 is the age at which a person’s criminal or anti-social behavior ceases to be regarded as juvenile delinquency and is treated as a criminal or quasi-criminal act, subject to the processes and sanctions normally applicable to adults. Goss v. Allen, 70 N.J. 442, 360 A.2d 388, 1976 N.J. LEXIS 208 (1976).

Placing a 21-year-old individual on probation with a condition he complete sex offender treatment as a result of actions involving a sexual assault against his younger sister he committed when he was a teenager was entirely within the juvenile court’s authority. However, the juvenile court erred by ordering the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) to effectuate that disposition and pay for such services as the limited situations that the DYFS’s services explicitly were extended to individuals who were between the ages of 18 and 21 did not include the 21 year old’s case since he nor his family had ever had any connection with the DYFS prior to the ordered disposition. State ex rel. J.S., 2010 N.J. LEXIS 547 (N.J. July 8 2010).

Juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis as defined under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22(g) is distinguished from a delinquent in that a juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis is considered self-destructive, and the officer acts “in loco parentis” to protect the juvenile. State in Interest of J.G., 227 N.J. Super. 324, 547 A.2d 336, 1988 N.J. Super. LEXIS 329 (Ch.Div. 1988).

Juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis as defined under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:4A-22(g) is distinguished from a delinquent in that a juvenile involved in a juvenile-family crisis is considered self-destructive, and the officer acts “in loco parentis” to protect the juvenile. State in Interest of J.G., 227 N.J. Super. 324, 547 A.2d 336, 1988 N.J. Super. LEXIS 329 (Ch.Div. 1988).

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Anthony J. Vecchio

Anthony’s entire career has been dedicated to defending those accused of crimes, DWI, serious motor vehicle violations, and the rights of victims of crimes and accidents. He has prosecuted, defended, or appealed cases ranging from municipal court matters to more serious crimes including drug offenses and murder. Anthony is passionate about providing personalized, thorough, and effective representation to individuals in crisis.

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