Deferred Dispositions and Your New Jersey Juvenile’s Case
When a minor gets in trouble in New Jersey, they have more options in the legal system than an adult. Since the juvenile system leans far more toward the rehabilitation side of the penal system equation, balancing public safety against rehabilitation and recidivism reduction, minors can get second and third (or more) chances to learn from their mistakes. To that effect, the juvenile court system provides resources and broad judicial discretion to craft punishment. The aim is to deter further crime while acknowledging that juveniles are growing human beings that are products of poor decision-making and forces beyond their control, along with malleability that promotes their being given an alternative to the harsh consequences of one bad choice or run-in with the legal system. A deferred disposition is one mechanism for second chances in the juvenile justice system in New Jersey. When a juvenile gets a deferred disposition, they can avoid a criminal record by successfully completing a probationary period, thus moving on with a fresh start unencumbered by the juvenile charges originally brought against them.
If your child has been charged with a criminal offense as a juvenile in Sussex County or Warren County, do not hesitate to hire a keen juvenile defense attorney to keep your child’s record clear and give them a fresh start and improved chances for future success. Our juvenile defense attorneys are here to offer counsel and support while using our experience to preserve their rights and protect their future. Your son or daughter may not need to have a record at all, much less the heavy repercussions they could face for juvenile delinquency. We are committed to helping you and son or daughter with obtaining a clean slate by way of deferred disposition or another alternative outcome that best serves their interests and the facts of their case. Speak to one of our lawyers about a juvenile case and learn more about how we can help by calling (973)-755-1695 today. We offer free consultations anytime and are available to immediately assist you.
The Purpose of a Deferred Disposition in NJ
Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system affords minors accused of a crime with various sentences if their offense warrants more than a warning or talking to by law enforcement. A judge can even defer a sentence and final resolution of a juvenile case. A deferred disposition allows a judge to release a minor before convicting or adjudicating them delinquent. In that way, a judge can determine whether the youth is serious about their second chance and staying out of trouble. A form of probation, the juvenile who obtains a deferred disposition reports to a probation officer with a timeline to complete specific tasks and remain crime-free.
For example, a minor who the police caught fighting, shoplifting, or partying and drinking alcohol with friends might have to attend anger management courses and submit to drug testing for six months to a year before getting their arrest and charges cleared from their record. Other conditions may be to be home before curfew, refrain from drinking or smoking, and attend counseling. The maximum term for a deferral is a year in which the juvenile must abide by all the deferral terms. Otherwise, they will be adjudicated delinquent and face detention in a juvenile center or other penalties for breaking the law, depending on what they allegedly did to get arrested.
What is Considered for a Juvenile to get a Deferred Disposition
Again, the judge has the discretion to examine the defendant’s age, juvenile history, family circumstances, and character to tailor a disposition as the case warrants. Deferred dispositions are often considered to work best for those minors under 15 years old who have no history of run-ins with the law and a minor infraction. Typical qualifying infractions include violations most young teens or young people get in trouble for, such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct, trespassing, criminal mischief, and possession of small amounts of drugs or drug paraphernalia. Given the offense and circumstances, the judge must decide whether the juvenile under consideration would more likely comply with the terms of a deferred disposition than committing another crime.
The decision is not based on a guess, the promises of the juvenile, or their family’s request. A judge decides based on a host of factors, such as the offense’s nature and circumstances. A judge may look at a case of an ashamed 14-year-old stealing a $30 game from a store differently than a case of a 14-year-old who stole a $30 bottle of vodka from a liquor store and resisted arrest, destroying the owner’s property. It also matters how the juvenile’s support system can contribute to their success through a deferred disposition. The court may also reason that a juvenile’s likelihood of completing a probationary period is low due to the accused’s psychological, physical, or social needs. Thus, a youth without family support who relies on gang support for their social and psychological needs or a minor charged with a sex crime is an unlikely candidate for deferred disposition.
In addition, without indicators that a deferred disposition would allow a juvenile to use the time and supervision to redirect their focus on healthy academic and social pursuits, a court may hesitate to defer judgment. Other factors for consideration are the physical or mental disabilities of the juvenile and the effects on victims, the community, or public safety from the juvenile’s offense. In other words, the balance of the individual’s and the public’s interests must make sense, and the outcome must be promising.
Get Help from a Juvenile Attorney to Fight for Probation and a Clear Criminal Record for Your Son or Daughter in New Jersey
Is your child facing consequences for a juvenile criminal offense? Seek help from an attorney who knows the juvenile justice system and how to navigate your way through it. With vast experience handling these cases, our juvenile defense attorneys can prepare a persuasive case for the deferred disposition, knowing the criteria the judge relies on to make their decision. While juvenile courts aim to give first-time youth offenders diversionary programs rather than juvenile adjudication for minor offenses, they want to ensure the decision makes sense in promoting rehabilitation. Thus, the most significant opportunity for a juvenile to indeed start over from their mistakes is to convince a judge that they would thrive if given time, resources, and supervision. The advantage is a record clear of any evidence of the arrest, crime, or fingerprints to haunt them in the future should they slip up at some point moving forward.
If your child has had their first brush with the law for a minor violation and faces a juvenile adjudication, they may be eligible for a deferred disposition. Sit down with a juvenile defense lawyer at our firm. We can use things like your child’s academic records, sports trophies, awards, and other evidence of a promising youth with good character and a bright future to show the court why criminal penalties are not the right outcome in their case. Contact us for a free consultation about your son or daughter’s pending juvenile charges and start the process of successfully defending them. Call (973)-755-1695 to get help immediately or send us a message.