Juvenile Justice in New Jersey
“Rehabilitation and reformation of the juvenile remain a hallmark of the juvenile system”
State in the Interest of C.K.,
233 N.J. 44, 48 (2018)1
New Jersey's adult criminal justice system focuses more on punishment than its juvenile justice system. By way of example, the maximum penalties for offenses committed by juveniles are far more limited than those committed by adults. See N.J.S.A 2A:4A-44(d)(1). Unity of family and healthy development of children are the two foremost purposes of the juvenile justice system. See N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-21. Most juvenile delinquency matters are heard in the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-24. Further, parents or guardians are “necessary parties to every proceeding in all juvenile delinquency actions.” Rule 5:20-4.
Children adjudicated delinquent can nonetheless be subject to significant punishment, including incarceration, as well was suffer other disadvantages related to juvenile delinquency, such as discrimination in college admissions. For example, “[t]wo-thirds of colleges and universities collect criminal justice information during the admissions process. Of those, about 20% of colleges have denied admission based on the young person’s record . . . .”
Under this website tab, visible in the column to the left, there are ten more modules which will walk through some of the most significant aspects of the juvenile justice system:
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- The Complaint
- Additional Points of Contrast and Comparison with the Adult Criminal Justice System
- Custody and Juvenile Statements
- Motion Practice
- Delinquency Hearings
- Post-Disposition and Expungement
1 A note on legal citations:
The four main sources of law governing juvenile delinquency proceedings in New Jersey are:
- Constitutional law, under the United States Constitution and New Jersey State Constitution;
- Statutory law, primarily the Code of Juvenile Justice, N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-20, et seq. and the Code of Criminal Justice, N.J.S.A. 2C:1-1, et seq.;
- Court rules, primarily Part V of the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, as well as Parts I and III; and
- Decisional law, the written opinions and orders of courts deciding disputes regarding juvenile justice.
Some notes on these sources of law:
- The provisions of the United States Constitution most relevant to criminal or juvenile procedure are those found in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, typically cited as “U.S. Const., amend. [number].” Analogous provisions in the New Jersey State Constitution, such as Article I, Paragraph 7, which is almost equivalent to the Fourth Amendment, are typically cited as “N.J. Const., art. 1, ¶ 7.”
- Statutes in New Jersey are generally cited by reference to the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (“N.J.S.A.”); the titles within those statutes (e.g., Title “2C” for criminal offenses); and the sections within those titles (e.g., N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1, regarding assault). The section symbol § is often omitted.
- Court Rules, as suggested above, generally fall into “Parts” based on the subject matter they govern. The “Part” number is the first part of a Rule citation (e.g., “Rule 1:1-1”). “Rule” is often abbreviated “R.” and sometimes italicized or underlined.
- Decisional law is generally cited by a reference to a case name, with juvenile delinquency case names in New Jersey typically taking the form State in the Interest of [initials of juvenile] or beginning In re; a court reporter citation beginning with a volume number, then a reporter name, then a page number(s); and a year.
- Legal writing often makes use of the abbreviation “id.” which stands for “idem,” meaning “the same,” and is meant to be shorthand for the legal citation cited immediately previously.
Please be aware that not all writing on this webpage follows the conventions governing formal legal writing.
Note: The information on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all content is for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other websites, which are simply for the convenience of the reader.