One of the most disheartening things to experience as a parent is to learn that your children are facing difficulty or the threat of harm. While you cannot protect your child completely, there are things you can do that will allow you to help him or her in the event that your child is in legal trouble. The juvenile criminal justice system is complex, but knowing what to expect can allow you to provide important assistance support during this difficult time.
While there are likely consequences to certain criminal acts, it does not necessarily mean that your child will ruin his or her entire future after one bad choice. However, it will be essential to work diligently to protect his or her rights and seek a beneficial outcome to a difficult situation. As a New Jersey parent, you can support your child, advocate for his or her long-term interests and provide insight as you navigate the justice system.
What to expect
Facing any type of criminal charges is intimidating and overwhelming. It can be especially intimidating when you are young and unsure of what is ahead for you. The intent of the juvenile justice system is to provide young offenders with a path forward, not to put them behind bars for the rest of their lives. In most cases, juvenile courts consider all relevant factors when hearing these cases and deciding on sentencing. Some of these factors include:
- Juvenile’s attitude when in court
- Severity of the criminal act
- Evidence of wrongdoing
- Minor’s age and maturity level
- Minor’s previous criminal record and past problems
- Whether parents are able to control the minor
Depending on the nature of the case, it is possible that a juvenile may have to appear before a judge, even if no charges are filed. There are times when an informal judgment occurs in an effort to rehabilitate and protect the minor’s future.
Advocating for your child
When your child’s future is on the line, you do not have to face the system alone. You will benefit from seeking guidance regarding how you can help your child and what steps are necessary for his or her future interests. Regardless of your child’s age or the nature of the charges against him or her, he or she has the right to a defense and to confront any evidence brought by the prosecution.