A MESSAGE FROM THE CAMDEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR

The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office recognizes its basic duty to protect citizens from violent crime and property crimes. The fact that a criminal act may have been committed by a juvenile does not lessen its impact upon the victim, the victim’s family or the community.

Victims of crime may experience emotional trauma, physical pain or financial losses. There may be some confusion regarding the Juvenile Justice System and victims’ roles within it. The Office of Victim Witness Advocacy within the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to addressing your special needs, answering your questions and providing information, support, and services as your case proceeds to its conclusion.

The Juvenile Justice System attempts to perform a delicate balancing act between protecting the public and rehabilitating youthful offenders so that their conduct does not become repetitive. The Office of Victim Witness Advocacy seeks to ensure that victims of juvenile offenders are treated with compassion and respect by the Juvenile Justice System.

We hope that the information and services provided in this brochure will be helpful to you as you navigate the Juvenile Justice System.

WHAT IS JUVENILE DELINQUENCY?

Any act committed by someone under the age of eighteen, which would constitute a crime or a disorderly persons offense if committed by an adult, is an act of juvenile delinquency.

SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE CAMDEN COUNTY PROSECUTORS OFFICE OF VICTIM WITNESS ADVOCACY

Case updates and information regarding the status of your case, court dates, disposition, and restitution information through letters and telephone contact;

Orientation to the Juvenile Justice System;

Court accompaniment;

A separate, secure waiting area during Court proceedings;

Counseling referrals;

Assistance with Victim Impact Statements;

Assistance with applications for the Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB);

Information and advocacy.

YOUR RIGHTS AS A VICTIM OF A JUVENILE OFFENDER

1. INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR CASE

The Juvenile Code allows information regarding the identity of a juvenile, the offense charged, the date and times of Court proceedings, adjudication and disposition to be given to a victim or member of the victim’s immediate family.

2. HIV/AIDS TESTING

A victim of a sexual assault may request that a juvenile who is charged with or adjudicated delinquent for the offense be tested for HIV/AIDS. The Victim Witness Unit will notify the victim of the results of the tests.

3. VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT

The Juvenile Code provides that a victim has the right to make a statement to the Court, either in writing or in person, before disposition.

4. COMPENSATION

A victim of a juvenile offender may request compensation for out-of-pocket, uninsured medical, counseling or funeral expenses; loss of earnings or support; and other crime-related costs from the Victims of Crime Compensation Board.

STEPS IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE PROCESS

1. SIGNING THE COMPLAINT

A complaint can be signed by the victim, the police or by the parents or guardian of a juvenile victim.

2. DIVERSIONARY PROGRAMS

The Juvenile Conference Committee (JCC) and Intake Services Conference (ISC) are two diversionary programs that allow a juvenile to resolve charges without a formal adjudication of delinquency. These programs are only an option when a juvenile has little or no prior criminal history or involvement with the Juvenile Justice System. If the juvenile successfully complies with the recommendations of the JCC or ISC through means such as a letter of apology, restitution to the victim or community service, the case is closed. If the juvenile does not comply the case will be referred to Court for formal adjudication. Both the juvenile and the victim should receive notice of the decision to divert the matter and be given an opportunity to appear before a final decision is made.

3. DETENTION

A juvenile who is found by a Family Court judge to be a flight risk, a danger to him/herself or the community, or who has no legal guardian to take custody of him/her will be held in the Camden County Youth Center during the course of the case.

If a juvenile is detained, his/her situation is reviewed within 24 hours to determine if he/she should be released or held. If remanded back to detention, there will be an additional detention review within 48 hours, with the possibility of a Probable Cause Hearing within 48 hours, with an attorney representing the juvenile.

4. RELEASE

There are several options for juveniles who do not need to be held in detention while awaiting their court appearance, but do need constant supervision.

  • Electronic Monitoring. A bracelet worn around the juveniles ankle that alerts an officer if the juvenile leaves the home without permission. The officer can also test the juvenile for any drug or alcohol use from the home.
  • House Arrest is an intensive supervision program in which an officer checks on the juvenile several times a day, either by telephone or in-person. The officer may also perform random drug tests on the juvenile.
  • Court-Ordered Guidelines, including attending school daily, obeying the rules of home and school, or attending counseling.

5. FORMAL vs. INFORMAL CASES

Formal or counsel-mandatory cases are serious offenses where incarceration or some other severe penalty is a possibility. In a formal case, the juvenile offender must be represented by an attorney. If the juvenile cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed by the court. The juvenile is then scheduled for a pre-trial. At pre-trial, a juvenile may either admit to the charges or deny them. If the juvenile admits to the charges, the youth is adjudicated delinquent. The judge will either impose a disposition that day or schedule a new date for the juvenile to return to court. Disposition is the same as sentencing in criminal court.

If the juvenile denies the charges, a date will be scheduled for a trial. A juvenile trial takes place in front of a judge, not a jury. The State has the burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Court is satisfied that the State has proven its case, the juvenile will be adjudicated delinquent and the case will be scheduled for disposition.

Informal or counsel non-mandatory cases are those where incarceration is not a possible outcome. While the juvenile may bring an attorney, the court is under no obligation to provide representation. The adjudication in an informal case proceeds in the same way as in a formal case.

6. DISPOSITION

Dispositions can take many forms and may combine several requirements in one order. Among the options available to the Judge are:

That the disposition be postponed and the complaint later dismissed if no further charges are filed within a specified period of time (This is call a one-year rule);
Placing the juvenile on probation. Juveniles can be ordered, as a condition of probation to perform certain tasks, to attend counseling, and to participate in and complete various programs run by DYFS or other agencies;
Transferring custody of the juvenile to a relative or other qualified person;
Placing the juvenile under the care of DYFS for the purpose of providing services in or out of the home;
Fining the juvenile;
Ordering the juvenile to pay restitution for lost or damaged property, stolen money, or other expenses incurred as a result of the offense. The amount of restitution is determined by the submission of an accurate account of loss and the ability of the juvenile to pay;
Ordering the juvenile to perform community service;
Placing the juvenile in a suitable substance abuse treatment program;
Postponing, suspending, or revoking for up to two years the driving privileges of any juvenile who used a motor vehicle in the course of committing a delinquent act; and
Incarceration of the juvenile.

7. PAROLE

When juveniles are released early from incarceration, they are placed on parole. Parole officers are responsible for ensuring that the juvenile follows through with a parole plan mandated by the State Parole Board. They may also assist the juvenile in finding a job, enrolling in school or linking with counseling services when necessary.

8. WHEN THE JUVENILE SYSTEM IS NOT ENOUGH

When a juvenile commits a serious offense, and is deemed not likely to be rehabilitated by the age of 19, the prosecutor may make application to the Family Court for a waiver to transfer the case to adult court. In such cases, the Family Court waives its jurisdiction over the case, and transfers it to the Criminal Court. Once a case is waived up to the Criminal Court, it is handled like any other adult case, and is no longer part of the Juvenile Justice System.