By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a New Jersey Juvenile Court Attorney
Who should be the decision makers when to put a child on trial in adult court, where the penalties are far more severe and the loss of your reputation is permanent?
That is the question before the New Jersey Supreme Court, when the justices were asked to decide the merits of state laws that allow county prosecutors to make that decision — and then require state judges to uphold those decisions unless they involve an outrageous abuse of discretion.
Hundreds of teens each year are tried in adult courts, some facing up to life in prison.
The hearing often involves a power struggle between prosecutors, and state Superior Court judges, who are not pleased with the legal standard that essentially forces them to rubber-stamp a prosecutor’s request. And it highlights the tension between a stated statutory goal to rehabilitate youthful offenders and public outrage over their actions.
The American Civil Liberties and state Public Defender’s Offices are challenging the state’s “juvenile waiver laws.” arguing that the decision about who should be tried as an adult is a constitutional one that should rest more with the judicial branch.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, say the discretion to charge individuals belongs with them.
“An individual’s need to remain in juvenile court must be balanced by society’s legitimate and growing concern over … juvenile crime,” is a sentiment that I share both as a father, lawyer and resident.
Contact me personally today to discuss your juvenile court matter. I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns. You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org/.