New Jersey Juvenile Drug Crimes
The Unexpected Journey of Parenthood
As a parent, you prepare yourself for a challenging journey. Every child faces hurdles in life. These tend to be standard hurdles we all face when we’re young, though, like arguments with friends or struggling in certain classes.
What you likely don’t anticipate is that you’ll ever need to hire an NJ juvenile drug charge defense lawyer.
This makes sense when you consider that as of 2023, only .5% of the juveniles in New Jersey are in custody/detention. But despite the odds, you may still find yourself having to navigate this stressful, unexpected experience.
Juvenile Drug Charges in New Jersey: Overview
NJ juvenile drug crimes can fall into the category of trafficking, transportation, distribution, intent to distribute, possession, or manufacture of a dangerous controlled substance.
Another important detail to know is the way drugs are scheduled. Per the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, drugs are sorted into one of five categories, or schedules, based on their potential for addiction and causing harm to the user. The more dangerous or tightly controlled the drug in question is, the more serious the charges—and the potential penalties—will be.
Once your child is taken into custody, the police may either hold them in detention or release them into your custody. Juveniles are only detained if they’re deemed a danger to the community or a flight risk for their court appearance.
And if your child is detained, a hearing will be held within 24 hours to determine whether they’ll be held longer or released.
As the legal process continues, a judge will decide whether to try your child as a juvenile or an adult. This depends primarily on the severity of their charges and their past criminal record. In most cases, your child will have to appear in Family Court, which focuses on assisting and rehabilitating instead of doling out punishments.
When you work with a focused, knowledgeable NJ juvenile drug charge defense lawyer, the odds of getting your child back home sooner are much better.
Penalties for New Jersey Juvenile Drug Offenses
The potential legal consequences your child might face depend entirely on how serious the charges are and their past record. And under New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C 35-10, any person who illegally possesses a controlled substance faces specific ramifications.
That said, common penalties for New Jersey juvenile drug offenses can include:
- Community service
- Rehabilitation programs
- Educational services
- Drug screenings
You see, in most juvenile cases, any New Jersey judge is going to be focused on supporting and rehabilitating your child. But when the charges are serious, consequences like incarceration and steep fines are also possible. Hiring an NJ juvenile drug defense lawyer as early as possible is your best chance at mitigating penalties for your child.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a juvenile be charged as an adult for a drug crime in New Jersey?
Yes, a juvenile can be charged as an adult in New Jersey for a drug crime. According to New Jersey Revised Statute 2A:4A-26.1, this is completely legal so long as the juvenile was age 15 (or older) when the offense was committed.
But you should also know this applies specifically to serious drug crimes, such as narcotic trafficking or being liable for a drug-induced death.
What are the potential consequences of a juvenile drug crime conviction in New Jersey?
The potential consequences of a New Jersey juvenile drug crime conviction, in addition to the penalties listed above, include:
- Housing difficulties. Landlords typically require a background check before renting. With a drug conviction on their record, your child’s application may be swiftly disapproved.
- Ineligibility for the military. Even for minor crimes, your child will need an approved waiver to enlist. And for more serious charges, they’ll be permanently barred.
- A challenging college application process. A conviction doesn’t automatically disqualify your child from college admission. But the process will be much harder. If a college has to choose between someone with a criminal record and someone without, they often opt for the applicant with a clean history.
- Serious hurdles while seeking employment. Just like landlords, employers conduct background checks. When they find out your child has a drug conviction on their record, they can legally opt not to move forward with the hiring process.
The consequences for a juvenile drug conviction in New Jersey span far beyond the legal penalties. But when you hire an expert New Jersey juvenile drug crimes lawyer, your child is far more likely to win the best possible outcome—and minimize these additional consequences.
What defenses are available for juveniles facing drug crime charges in New Jersey?
Potential defenses for juveniles facing drug crime charges in New Jersey are:
- Unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects against unwarranted search and seizure. If a police officer stopped your child for speeding and finds drugs in the glove compartment or trunk, for example, this may have been unlawful.
- The juvenile wasn’t actually in possession. Your child simply being in the same home where drugs are sitting on a table is enough for them to be charged. But a knowledgeable, competent attorney can often prove your child wasn’t truly in possession.
- Entrapment. It’s true that law enforcement officers can legally set up sting or undercover operations. But if an officer or informant influences or guides your child’s decision to commit the crime, the charges may not be valid.
Ultimately, the best defense strategy depends entirely on specific details of the charges. When you work with a knowledgeable, experienced NJ juvenile drug charge defense lawyer like John B. Fabriele, III, you can expect a defense custom-tailored to your unique circumstances.
Get Help from an Expert NJ Juvenile Drug Charge Defense Lawyer
If your child is facing a juvenile drug charge of any kind in New Jersey, you aren’t helpless. The best thing you can do is to hire an NJ juvenile drug defense lawyer who can aggressively advocate on their behalf and take on the New Jersey juvenile justice system.
To learn more about how we can help defend your family and to receive your free case evaluation, call the New Jersey Juvenile Defense Law Office of John B. Fabriele, III now at (732) 487-3388.