Juvenile Drug Offenses in New Jersey
If your child has been arrested on charges involving illicit drugs in New Jersey, he or she could face serious short-term and long-term consequences if convicted.
Juveniles convicted for drug offenses in New Jersey may face fines, detention and community service – or worse. Many drug offenses carry the same harsh penalties for juveniles as they do for adults. Any drug conviction can damage educational and professional opportunities.
New Jersey courts are supposed to concentrate on rehabilitation instead of punishment when adjudicating juvenile drug offenses. But some courts find punishment to be the easier path if a young person lacks a strong legal advocate. That’s why your child needs an aggressive legal defense from an experienced New Jersey juvenile drug crimes lawyer.
Attorney Jason A. Volet is a former prosecutor in Monmouth County, NJ. Today, his legal practice is focused entirely on protecting the rights of the accused. He has handled more than 2,000 criminal defense cases in his career. He is also one of a few lawyers certified as a Criminal Defense Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Jason Volet knows how New Jersey’s juvenile justice system is intended to work and how it actually works. He has dedicated his career as a legal advocate to assisting people like you and your child.
What Happens in a Juvenile Drug Arrest in NJ?
If your child has been arrested and taken into custody, the police may hold the juvenile in a detention facility or release him or her to a parent. New Jersey law says juveniles can be detained only if they are considered a danger to the community or a risk to not appear in court. In most cases, a juvenile held on a drug arrest that did not involve violence will be released to his or her parents.
If a child is held in a juvenile detention facility after being arrested, there will be a hearing within 24 hours to determine whether the child is a danger to him/herself or others or is a flight risk. If a juvenile is detained, there will be additional hearings in the following days to determine the child’s status and periodic reappraisals afterward for someone in detention.
All juveniles charged with crimes in New Jersey go first to Family Court where, by law, they must be represented by a lawyer. A public defender is appointed for a child whose parents and/or guardians cannot afford to hire an attorney. A Family Court judge will decide whether the underage defendant will be tried as a juvenile or an adult, and whether the charges will be dismissed.
Some drug offenses, like possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana are non-indictable crimes handled as disorderly persons offenses. If the charges involve an extremely serious drug crime, such as drug trafficking or producing drugs, a juvenile may be tried as an adult in county court. Children who are 14 years old or younger cannot be charged as an adult, regardless of the offense.
Most juveniles arrested for drug crimes go to Family Court, where the focus is to assist and rehabilitate a child rather than punish him or her. It is always preferable to have a case heard in Family Court.
Attorney Jason A. Volet can begin to represent your child’s best interests as soon as contacted. At an initial detention review hearing, he can present a carefully prepared argument to the court as to why your child should be released, including consideration of the child’s age, record and the nature of the juvenile offense. His goal will be to get your child back home as soon as possible. He will also challenge any attempt by a prosecutor to transfer your child’s case to adult court.
What are the Types of Drug Charges in NJ?
There are numerous drug charges available to police and prosecutors in New Jersey. Available punishment ranges in severity and, if not adequately challenged, can have devastating effects on a juvenile’s future.
Your underage child may face charges involving:
Certain juvenile drug crimes can lead to detention and stiff fines, such as possession of less than one ounce of any Schedule I or II controlled dangerous substance (e.g., heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine), which is a third degree offense. First and second degree drug offenses carry the harshest penalties.
Whether your child’s case is heard before a Family Court judge or in Superior Court, attorney Jason A. Volet will present a vigorous defense, including challenging the prosecutor’s witnesses and other evidence. He will advocate for the most favorable outcome possible, including a “deferred disposition” or similar outcome with probation and release to you as a parent or guardian.
How Will a Juvenile be Punished for Drug Charges in NJ?
The New Jersey court system is set up to allow nonviolent offenders to seek rehabilitation and avoid jail, particularly for juveniles and in drug possession cases. However, your defense attorney must present a case that persuades the judge that some type of diversion is what is best for your child and society. Having an experienced juvenile drug offense attorney can make all the difference.
New Jersey has numerous diversionary programs for juveniles. If your child has been charged with a first or second offense of a minor nature, a Juvenile Conference Committee (JCC) and Intake Service Conference (ISC) will make recommendations as to whether diversion is appropriate.
A judge will consider recommendations from juvenile court officers and factors such as:
- The juvenile’s age
- Performance in school
- Openness to rehab or counseling
- Expressions of understanding and remorse
- Prior juvenile record.
Depending on what the judge determines is appropriate, the Juvenile Justice Commission offers programs that address a wide range of needs for children and youth involved in the juvenile justice system, such as:
- Drug and alcohol abuse counseling
- Anger management classes
- Emotional counseling
- Educational programs
- Vocational programs
- Mentoring programs
- Community service
- Day programs
- Residential facilities
- Secure care facilities
- Transitional and re-entry services.
A juvenile aged 15-17 being tried in adult court for a first-time nonviolent offense may be allowed to enter Drug Court, close-supervision probation intended for defendants who are ready to work on their substance abuse problems. Once all conditions of the intervention program have been met, the charges are dismissed.
Get Help from a New Jersey Juvenile Drug Offense Lawyer Today
Contact an attorney who will stand up for your underage child’s future if he or she faces drug charges in New Jersey. Jason A. Volet will carefully review the case, explain your child’s rights and options, answer your questions and work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome for your child.
Call the Law Office of Jason A. Volet today or reach out online 24/7. We serve clients in Freehold, Neptune and throughout Monmouth County and surrounding areas in New Jersey. Contact us today.