The defense of juvenile defendants is one of the most important and complex aspects of a criminal case. Understandably, people are often confused about aspects of juvenile defense.

It is common for young people to be mischievous. However, if their antics go too far, they could land in trouble with the law. Juvenile criminal defense is a strategy that is tailored to cases involving minors.

3 misconceptions about the juvenile justice system

Some myths about juvenile criminal offenses that could keep young people from getting the best outcome possible in their case include:

  • Myth 1 – The juvenile system is more lenient than the adult system

Juveniles are those who are under 18. Many people think that juveniles may not have to worry about the consequences of their actions like  adults, but this is not true. The juvenile system is not always lenient, but it is separate.

  • Myth 2 – Juveniles are not charged as adults

Juveniles are sometimes charged as adults for their crimes. Judges have the discretion to impose other punishments like home incarceration, probation instead of incarceration or community service if they feel that it’s warranted.

But when a child commits a serious offense, they can be tried in an adult court where they will face harsh adult penalties. In reality, cases often depend on the severity of their crimes and how old they were at the time of the alleged incident.

  • Myth 3 – A juvenile can only get probation in place of incarceration

Juveniles can be incarcerated just like an adult would for their crimes. Minors are not always automatically given a lighter sentence for crimes because they committed them earlier in life. The punishment can also depend on other factors, e.g., having a prior criminal record.

Luckily for some children there is still hope to avoid harsh punishments. Not guilty verdicts are possible, but sometimes plea bargaining prior to going to trial can yield the best results under the circumstances. Even if they are found guilty, expungement of their criminal record may be an option.

If you’re dealing with a legal issue related to juveniles, make sure you understand how the law treats minors in New Jersey before making any decisions that can effect your future.