Can a child go to jail in New Jersey?

The worst-case scenario for any parent is to see their child convicted of a crime. Under those conditions, the whole situation can be extremely stressful for you, and most importantly, your child. In the state of New Jersey, juveniles under the age of 18 are typically treated far less severely in court compared to adults when it comes to criminal cases, although there are exceptions to this. Minors can be tried as adults and charged with felonies depending on the circumstances of their conviction. Not only could this lead to potential jail time, but it could also result in permanent life-altering consequences for your child. If your child is facing serious legal troubles, do not hesitate to contact the Bergen County juvenile offense attorneys at the Law Office of Carl Spector to help guide you through the process.

What crimes can a child go to jail for in New Jersey?

While crimes committed by minors are usually treated as a separate category compared to charges against adults, minors can be tried as adults, and receive the same punishment, depending on the crime. For example, aggravated sexual assault is classified as a first-degree criminal offense in New Jersey. Despite their age, if a minor is convicted of this crime, they could potentially receive jail time anywhere from 10 to up to 20 years, along with additional fines as high as $200,000. It should also be noted that the No Early Release Act applies to crimes of this nature, meaning a minor could be required to serve at least 85% of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Other crimes, such as charges related to vehicle theft, could also land a minor in prison. Because it is classified as a violent crime, prosecutors may file additional charges depending on the circumstances of the incident, especially if a firearm was involved. Carjacking convictions can result in jail time as high as 30 years as well as hefty fines. But perhaps the most severe crime a minor can be convicted as an adult for is murder. A homicide conviction can result in a minimum prison sentence of 30 years, with the most severe punishment being life in prison without parole.

How does a charge against a child become an adult criminal case?

After a minor is arrested in New Jersey, their case will be heard by the Juvenile Conference Committee. During this process, the committee will observe the facts of the case as well as take into account the severity of the crime. If they determine that the crime is serious enough, the case can be brought to adult criminal court. Once a minor’s case is waived up to adult criminal court, they will become susceptible to the same penalties as adults.