Arrested and Charged With a Drug Offense(s) Before the NJ Juvenile Court?
We Represent Clients in NJ Juvenile Court for Drug Offenses
Juvenile Courts handle lots of minor drug offenses every year. While the term “drug offense” seems less serious, the implications arising from your case are not and your conviction will become part of your permanent record and can result in jail time. This means that all Juvenile Court cases must be taken seriously. Seeking representation of an experienced Juvenile Court Attorney is highly recommended.
At Hanlon Niemann, we fully realize that your Juvenile Court case is serious stuff. We will treat it just as serious as you do. Even a minor drug possession charge can significantly impact many aspects of your life later, such as getting a job or getting into a school or graduate school. It is our job to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case, whether it be pleading you to a lesser charge to eliminate the risk of a conviction or taking your case to trial to prove your innocence. Perhaps our skill will be evident in fighting to obtain for you the most favorable sentence as possible. You can count on the attorneys at Hanlon Niemann to be by your side throughout the entire case, from start to finish.
WHAT TYPES OF DRUG CASES ARE TRIED IN JUVENILE COURT?
Juvenile Courts have jurisdiction over drug cases involving minors. These include possession of marijuana, being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of certain prescription drugs to name a few examples.
Possession of drug(s) charges originate from you getting caught with minor amounts of the drugs in your presence. Larger quantities of drugs in your possession result in a charge of drug distribution, which is a very serious matter regardless of the drug possession.
WHAT MUST A PROSECUTOR SHOW IN ORDER TO CONVICT ME OF A DRUG CHARGE IN JUVENILE COURT?
A Prosecutor must prove that you had both knowledge and intent to possess the drugs. Knowledge can be proven by showing the defendant had actual knowledge of the drugs, in cases where the defendant is caught holding the drugs. Possession can also be proven by showing constructive knowledge, a legal concept that the New Jersey Criminal Courts permit. Constructive knowledge can be established different ways by a prosecutor to show a defendant had “knowledge” of the drugs. Your best bet for your defense is to hire a knowledgeable Juvenile Court Attorney who is aware of the elements of a drug case and can make the legal arguments you are not even aware of.
THE ROLE OF A JUVENILE COURT ATTORNEY IN A DRUG CASE
A Juvenile Court Attorney acts in your best interests at all times, whether it is defending you throughout trial, negotiating with the prosecutor, arranging for a plea deal, or pleading to the judge to give you a favorable sentence. All lawyers have a fiduciary duty to do so. In Juvenile Court Drug cases, there are often complex procedural issues associated with the trial and evidence in particular.
A knowledgeable Juvenile Court Drug Attorney is able to spot irregularities and missed requirements of law that a prosecutor must follow. Knowing the proper procedures of Juvenile Court that must be followed in the drug charges against you, as well as the production of lab reports related to the drugs seized, chain of custody issues between the police and the lab, etc. is all evaluated by counsel. It is important your attorney know the legal procedures surrounding drug cases and identify any missteps by the prosecution or police, so that they may make a timely objection. In the absence of a timely objection, mistakes by the prosecution that could have favorably impacted your case will be lost when the matter goes to the Court. A good Juvenile Court Lawyer should also able to explain the complicated legalese to you in a plain simple English and in a manner that you understand, helping you to be more involved in your case.
IS THERE ANY WAY FOR ME TO AVOID COURT ENTIRELY?
First time offenders of certain drug offenses are eligible to apply for what is called a conditional discharge. If granted by the Juvenile Court Judge, it means that you will be placed on probation and sometimes with drug counseling during a six-month to two-year period. If you remain drug clean and do not break any further laws or violate any terms of the conditional discharge, then the charges against them will be dropped and case will be dismissed. However, if you violate the terms of the conditional discharge, the case is returned back to the Court to be decided by a Judge.
The diversion program is only available one time for individuals and as mentioned before, applies only to certain low-level drug crimes. As a defendant you will also be required to pay fines and costs associated along with the diversion program.
The conditional discharge program is available based solely on the discretion of the Juvenile Court judge. Therefore, the judge can approve or deny the program based on how he/she feels about your case. Judges will not approve a diversion program for an accused person that they believe poses a danger to the community or who is likely to commit another crime if granted their conditional discharge. Some judges favor the program and some do not. It is therefore important your Juvenile Court Attorney come prepared with evidence showing that you would be a favorable candidate for conditional discharge program, such as letters from community members, lists of positive actions taken within the community, and reasons why you would benefit from the program. An experienced Juvenile Court Attorney is aware of what to show the judge and how to approach the situation.
IF CONVICTED OF A DRUG CRIME OR PLEADING GUILTY IN JUVENILE COURT, CAN YOU GET YOUR RECORD EXPUNGED?
Yes, but only after five years. Nobody wants a drug crime conviction on their record, regardless of whether it is for low-level drugs. Such a conviction can harm your chances of getting a job, getting a professional license, or getting into a school for example. Expunging your record gets rid of the conviction, so that when anyone searches your record, it comes up saying “no convictions.” It is therefore important that once you have the opportunity, you hire an experienced attorney to take you through the proper channels to get your record expunged. It is not as simple as filling out a form. Expungement involves an entire court process. If you want to know more about expungements in New Jersey visit our expungement web site at: www.njexpungement.us.
Drug cases should not be taken lightly. They can have serious implications on your future. Hiring an experienced Juvenile Court Drug Defense Attorney can make all the difference. Please call Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., toll free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find him non-judgmental and easy to talk to. He looks forward to speaking with you.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Juvenile Court Attorney