Juvenile Adjudication for Delinquency in New Jersey
Delinquency is an act committed by a juvenile under the age of 18 that if committed by an adult would constitute an indictable offense (crime), a disorderly persons offense, a petty disorderly persons offense, or a violation under any other penal statute, ordinance or regulation.
What is juvenile delinquency?When a juvenile commits a criminal offense it is called a juvenile adjudication and not a criminal conviction. Therefore, if a juvenile is found to have committed an offense, the family court can adjudicate the juvenile, but cannot find the juvenile guilty of an offense. However, under New Jersey (Waiver laws) law, if a juvenile is 16 or older, a prosecutor can make a waiver request to transfer the juvenile to an adult court if a public citizen or the like accuses the juvenile of homicide, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and any other violent offenses. Some common juvenile criminal offenses include drug-related offenses, theft and shoplifting, disorderly conduct, assault, alcohol-related offenses ("Baby DWI"), and burglary.
Who has jurisdiction over juvenile adjudication matters?In New Jersey, the Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction over juvenile adjudication matters. When a public citizen or the like accuses a juvenile of a delinquent act, he or she must sign a complaint. The complaint will then be assigned to the Family Court Intake Services for processing. Once the court receives the complaint, the Intake Services Officer, an assistant prosecutor, and a judge will review the complaint to determine the status of the complaint. If the complaint alleges a serious crime, such as homicide, rape, or possession of drugs, it will be delivered to a court judge. However, if the complaint alleges a minor offense, such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct, or stolen property offense, it will be delivered to a Juvenile Conference Committee or an Intake Service Conference.