The Juvenile Unit (also known as the Family Court Unit) is responsible for prosecuting all juvenile petitions and non-indictable domestic violence contempt citations. The Code of Juvenile Justice (N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-23) defines delinquency as the commission of an act by an individual under age 18 which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime, a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly offense, or the violation of any other penal statute, ordinance or regulation. Curfew, smoking in public and motor vehicle offenses are heard in municipal court.
After charges have been filed by the municipal police department or another unit within the prosecutor’s office, assistant prosecutors assigned to the Juvenile Unit review the juvenile delinquency complaints and make a recommendation to the court. The juvenile, along with a parent or guardian, is required to appear to answer all charges. Crimes range from petty offenses such as trespassing to more serious crimes such as sexual assault, robbery and murder.
Juveniles who are 14 years of age or older and commit serious offenses such as homicide, armed robbery, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated arson and aggravated assault may be transferred or waived to the adult Criminal Division of the Superior Court. Juveniles charged with serious offenses, or who are not expected to appear voluntarily for court, may be detained at a juvenile detention center pending court action. Juveniles are not eligible for release on bail.
The Juvenile Unit seeks to promote accountability for the juvenile’s actions while protecting the community and seeking rehabilitation services to assist the juvenile in becoming a productive member of society.
In addition to the juvenile delinquency cases, the unit is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting adult criminal defendants who violate domestic violence restraining orders.
The unit is comprised of assistant prosecutors, investigative and support staff, and members of the Office of Victim Witness Advocacy. The Juvenile Unit works closely with the victim witness advocates to see that victims are dealt with fairly and compassionately during their court involvement.