Yes you need an attorney. Don't say, do or plead anything without the assistance of a lawyer. If your parents cannot afford to hire an attorney the court will appoint one for you free of charge.
The matter may be heard at a conference committee and not go to Trenton. If done by the committee no attorney is needed but you may want one for direction. On a first offense of this kind, with that small an amount, it almost certainly will be an adjourned disposition and some kind of probation. A PD can handle the matter but a private attorney may be able to get the matter dismissed without a formal disposition. Your parents have been notified already and will be in Court with you. Have them call with more information.
All juvenile cases are heard in the Superior Court. All juvenile cases are heard in the family court. Municipal Courts have no authority over juveniles for anything other than motor vehicle offenses. All juveniles must be represented by an attorney. If our family's income is below a certain amount, then you may be eligible for a public defender. Otherwise, you must hire a private attorney. Since the amount shoplifted is below $500, the offense would be classified as a disorderly persons offense if it had been committed by an adult. The sentence and penalties for a juvenile shoplifting still include the following:
* Detention (placement or camp)
* Juvenile record
Please call me if you have any questions.
It should be understood that even though I am answering your question, no attorney-client relationship exists between us. It should be further understood that while I am doing my best to answer your question based upon the information you provided, I do not have the complete facts and my answer might well be different, if I had more complete information. For these reasons, it is always best to consult either in person or by telephone with a lawyer and discuss your issues in detail.
As Mr. Cheser states, the matter may be handled by the JCC for disposition. An attorney is not required for that purpose and may not speak there. But at a minimum you need an attorney to navigate the process for you.
You absolutely need an attorney and should hire one ASAP. Without seeing more I can't tell if you should plead guilty or not but as a juvenile you are likely to get a period of adjustment.
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