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How Does Juvenile Court Differ From Adult Court?

If your child has been charged with a crime, it is extremely important that you get them proper legal representation. You need someone who has vast experience with criminal law and the New Jersey juvenile court system. There are big differences between the adult and juvenile criminal court system. You have to understand those differences because they may have a significant impact on your child’s future.

Different Terms are Used

Juvenile court uses different terms than what you may be used to hearing in adult criminal court. For example, the accused is not a defendant, they are referred to as a minor. The document that lists the charges against your child is called a petition, not a complaint. Also, the hearing where the juvenile is sentenced is called a disposition hearing, not a sentencing hearing.

No Jury Trials

A minor does not have a right to a jury trial. Also, for juveniles, it is not called a jury trial, but an adjudication, and the evidence is heard and decided by a judge.

No Right to Bail

With adult defendants, they are usually given bail terms at their initial arraignment. If they can make bail then they do not have to stay in jail pending the jury trial. However, juveniles do not have bail rights. It is up to the judge to determine, based upon the nature of the crime and the family circumstances, whether the minor will be released into the custody of their parents pending the trial.

Parents Sometimes Have to Testify

In juvenile court proceedings, sometimes, the parents or guardians of the accused minor have to testify in court. The judge may ask about the history of your child’s behavior and any details the parents know about the alleged crime.

Private Hearings

Unlike most adult criminal hearings and trials, juvenile hearings and trials are private; only family members are allowed to attend. However, every juvenile court may have different rules as to who is allowed to be present in the courtroom. The law and courts try to protect the privacy of the juvenile due to not wanting to ruin the minor’s future over one mistake they made when they were young.

Shorter Prison Sentences

In most instances, a juvenile will not be sentenced to a prison term in an adult prison, although there are a few exceptions with older teenagers who commit serious, violent acts. Most of the time, minors are sentenced to a term of time in a juvenile detention facility.

Sealed Records

In most instances, juvenile criminal records are sealed and are not open to the general public. Adult criminal records on the other hand can sometimes be difficult to expunge or wipe clean, but it is not impossible.

South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John can Help Your Minor Child Get the Best Result Possible in Juvenile Court

If your minor child has been arrested, having the right law firm is important. Our South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Agre & St. John know what it takes to get the best outcome for your child. Call us at 856-428-7797 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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