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Juvenile Delinquency

This site is designed to provide you with some general information about the court process and answer some frequently asked questions about juvenile delinquency matters. This site may not contain all of the questions you may have regarding juvenile delinquency matters.

Why are juvenile matters part of family court?

Except as otherwise provided by law, the Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction in all cases where it is charged that a juvenile (under 18 years of age) has committed an act of delinquency.

What is juvenile delinquency?

Delinquency means the commission of an act by a juvenile which, if committed by an adult, would constitute:

  1. a crime;
  2. a violation of any other ordinance or regulation.

What happens if my child is accused of a delinquent act?

A complaint may be signed against your child by the police or a citizen alleging a specific delinquent act. If the complaint is signed, it will then be forwarded to Family Court Intake Services for processing.

What happens when the complaint is received by the court?

Your child's complaint will be reviewed by an Intake Services Officer, an assistant prosecutor and a judge who will determine the status of the complaint. The complaint may be:

  1. Sent to court before a judge for serious charges such as homicide, aggravated assault, possession of drugs, etc;
  2. Diverted to an intake service conference or to a Juvenile Conference Committee for minor charges such as trespassing, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, assault, stolen property offense or malicious mischief.

What is diversion?

Diversion is the process of having the complaint settled without your child appearing before a judge.

What is an intake service conference?

When your child's complaint has been "diverted" to an Intake Services Conference, it will be scheduled before an Intake Officer, who, without regard to guilt or innocence, will try to settle the case. If the case cannot be settled, it will be referred to a judge.

What is a juvenile conference committee?

When your child's complaint has been "diverted" to a Juvenile Conference Committee, it will be referred back to the community in which you and your child reside. A committee, made up of community members, will try to settle the complaint. If it is not settled, it will be returned to Intake Services for re-processing.

What happens if my child must appear before a judge?

If it is determined that your child must appear before a judge, the complaint will be placed on either a formal calendar or an informal calendar.

Do I need a lawyer?

If the juvenile's complaint is placed on a formal calendar, the juvenile must be represented by a lawyer at all stages of the court proceedings. If the complaint is placed on an informal calendar, a lawyer is not required but one may be obtained if so desired. A lawyer is not needed if your child is appearing at a Juvenile Conference Committee hearing or an Intake Service Conference, however, you always have a right to have a lawyer with you at any stage of the proceedings.

What if I cannot afford a lawyer for my child?

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may apply for a public defender by filing an application with the court through the Juvenile Intake Unit. Guidelines based on your family's income are used to determine if you are eligible.

What happens if a public defender is not appointed for my child?

If you must get your own lawyer for your child, and do not know how to find one, you may contact the Hudson County Bar Association's Referral Service (201) 798-2727 for assistance.

What if my child is placed in the youth house?

If your child is placed in the Youth House on a delinquency charge, he/she will appear in court the very next day. If he/she is placed in the Youth House over the weekend or on a Holiday, the matter will be heard via a telephone conference call on with an Intake Officer, judge and prosecutor to determine whether your child should be released.

If your child is held during the week, you should be in court the morning following your child's arrest. On the weekends and holidays, contact the Youth House at (201) 319-3750.

What happens if I cannot keep my court date?

A subpoena and summons will be sent to you well in advance of the scheduled court dates. It is the responsibility of you and your lawyer, if you have one, to notify the court when it is not possible for you to appear at court. If you do not notify the court that you cannot attend, a warrant may be issued for your and your child's arrest.

What are court hours?

Court is open Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. Family Court is located at 595 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 2nd Floor, Room 201. Calls can be placed to (201) 795-6778.

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