Juvenile Prosecutions

Under New Jersey law, individuals under age 18 are prosecuted as juveniles. New Jersey has a uniquely favorable system for juvenile cases with an emphasis on rehabilitation and correction of a juvenile’s behavior as opposed to the destruction of their future. As a result, although the juvenile is charged with what sounds like criminal offenses, they are, in fact, treated as non-criminal offenses and are handled in the Family Courts of New Jersey. These cases are heard by a Family judge in proceedings not open to the public. In the Family Court, a good defense lawyer will emphasize the rehabilitation aspect of the juvenile system and will seek to find a resolution that preserves the juvenile’s future. Clients who are not guilty can have a trial before the Family Court Judge and not a jury. There are diversion programs in the juvenile courts where a client can, after a period of good behavior, have the charges dismissed and eventually expunged. Paul Brickfield has been appearing in the juvenile courts for over 30 years and has a wide range of experience in handling all types of these cases. He is a former co-chair of the Juvenile Committee of the Bergen County Bar Association.

In rare cases, a juvenile who is alleged to have committed a very serious offense, such as an assault with weapons or sexual assault, may be considered for adult prosecution. Under the very complex process called “waiver,” the prosecutor may petition the Court to have the individual prosecuted as an adult. A client facing potential waiver needs experienced counsel to assist in this regard. The consequences of waiver are severe, resulting in the client being prosecuted as an adult and, if convicted, possibly serving time in a New Jersey juvenile detention facility. Paul Brickfield has 30 years experience representing juveniles, including in waiver cases.