Domestic violence doesn't only occur between adults or when an adult abuses a child. Sometimes a minor may behave abusively toward a parent, stepparent, a sibling, or another person in the household.
Parents are often reluctant to involve the New Jersey legal system when a minor in their household is being abusive for fear of tainting the young person's future. However, sometimes it's essential to turn to the legal system to protect the victim, prevent further abuse, and help rehabilitate the juvenile abuser.
The Family Crisis Intervention Unit in New Jersey
If a juvenile engages in domestic violence, the family should contact the Family Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) in the county. The CIU is a unit of the Family Court Intake service whose objective is to provide 24-hour on-call service to help stabilize juvenile-family crises. The CIU must respond immediately to any crisis, whether by telephone or in-person.
If the CIU's interview with the family members resolves the crisis, no further intervention may be necessary. If the crisis remains unresolved, the CIU may remove the juvenile from the home and place them in a Juvenile Crisis Shelter, if necessary. Alternatively, the CIU may conduct a family assessment and implement a family service agreement to help manage an ongoing crisis. However, if even the family service agreement doesn't improve matters, the CUI may refer the case to Court Intake, with specific recommendations for resolving the problem.
Juvenile Delinquency in New Jersey
An adult may also choose to file a petition of delinquency against a youth accused of domestic violence. Pursuant to New Jersey Code 2A:4A-30, a person may only file the petition with their local Family Court if they have “knowledge of the facts alleged to constitute delinquency or is informed of such facts and believes that they are true.” In New Jersey, delinquency is “an act by a juvenile under the age of 18 that if committed by an adult would constitute a crime.” Domestic violence falls within this definition.
The New Jersey Family Court's goals are to both rehabilitate youth and hold them accountable for their actions. Juvenile petitions may be handled in one of three ways, depending on the circumstances of the case. First, the petition may be referred to a Juvenile Conference Committee or Intake Services Conference, where the matter will be discussed with the juvenile and family and resolved without an adjudication of delinquency. Instead, the youth will have to comply with specific conditions, such as counseling, evaluation, or other acts that may help rehabilitate the child.
A petition could also be referred to a juvenile referee. The referee will conduct an informal hearing where they will assess the facts, make a delinquency determination, and provide recommendations to the judge as to the disposition of the case. The dispositions will be carried out upon the judge's approval.
Finally, a juvenile may face a formal Court hearing. In a formal hearing, a judge will listen to the facts of the case and make an adjudication of delinquency. If the judge finds the youth delinquent, they will impose a disposition, which may include fines, community service, or confinement. A defense lawyer must represent a juvenile facing a formal hearing.
Juvenile Defense Lawyer in New Jersey
Whenever a child has been accused of domestic violence, it is essential to speak with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer. Your child's future depends on having their rights protected and receiving fair treatment. The Lento Law Firm offers a robust defense for those facing allegations of juvenile delinquency. Your child deserves legal representation that understands the juvenile system and has a track record of delivering results. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today for a case consultation at (888) 535-3686.