Deferred Disposition for NJ Juvenile Offense
Deferred Disposition in New Jersey
New Jersey juvenile courts recognize that children who break the law may deserve a second chance. Given a substantial body of scientific literature noting that a child’s brain development may not be complete until they turn eighteen or older, courts typically make a serious effort to rehabilitate youthful offenders. Rather than focusing solely on punishing them for their crimes or protecting society from their potential for re-offense, juvenile courts in NJ provide multiple options and alternatives to help young people get back on track. One option to help rehabilitate juvenile offenders is a “deferred disposition.” It is important to understand the concept of deferred disposition and how it may apply in a juvenile case, especially when dealing with a run-in with law enforcement as a minor. If you or your child is facing juvenile charges in New Jersey, get help right away from an experienced NJ juvenile defense lawyer. Our attorneys have successfully defended minors charged with crimes in courts across New Jersey, including in Bergen County, Morris County, Essex County, and Passaic County. Contact us now at (201)-556-1570 to discuss your potential eligibility for a deferred disposition and other potential options to best resolve your case.
What does Deferred Disposition Mean?
Deferred disposition is a type of “diversion” program that a judge may order for certain qualifying juvenile offenders. If a judge permits a qualifying minor to take advantage of deferred disposition, that minor will typically be ordered to comply with a number of conditions for a certain period of time. Those conditions might include avoiding alcohol if they were charged with a drinking-related offense, ceasing “tagging” if they were charged with vandalism, and generally complying with the law and avoiding re-offense. The court can also order that the minor check in frequently with a probation officer and/or complete random drug testing.
If the juvenile complies with the court-ordered terms of the deferred disposition program, usually over a one-year period of time, although the length of the program can vary at the judge’s discretion. If the juvenile successfully completes their probationary term, the court will order the charges against them dropped and records related to their arrest (technically referred to as being “taken into custody”) destroyed. This includes the destruction of DNA evidence, fingerprints, police reports, and other documents and related information.
Who Qualifies for Deferred Disposition?
Not everyone is eligible for deferred disposition in a New Jersey juvenile case. Only a first-time offender qualifies. Judges are not required to grant deferred disposition, however, even if this the juvenile’s first time in court. A judge will typically consider the facts of the juvenile’s offense, the chance that juvenile will benefit from deferred disposition, and the juvenile’s general willingness to follow the law and the court’s orders. Some of the most common juvenile offenses that qualify for a deferred disposition include:
- Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana
- Disorderly conduct
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Simple assault
Is a Deferred Disposition a Conviction?
No. A juvenile who completes the deferred disposition program will avoid a potentially lengthy term of detention, hefty criminal fines, and a criminal record.
On the other hand, if a juvenile fails to comply with a judge’s orders by picking up another offense, failing to check in with their probation officer, or testing dirty on a required drug test, among other potential violations, the charges against them can be reinstated. Juvenile court proceedings will recommence, the juvenile can be prosecuted, and the court may convict the juvenile on the original charges. This can subject the minor to all of the serious consequences they were originally facing.
Can I get a Deferred Disposition in NJ?
An experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who has handled numerous juvenile matters can help maximize your chances of receiving a deferred disposition. Our attorneys have extensive experience accomplishing this, and we are here to help you. Contact our highly skilled NJ juvenile defense attorneys today at (201)-556-1570 to discuss your juvenile case and find out if you may be eligible for a deferred disposition. Avoiding the penalties of a juvenile conviction can keep you on track for the life you want.