An arrest of a juvenile for a marijuana charge in New Jersey must be taken seriously by any parent or guardian. While the charges will be heard in Juvenile Court (Family Division) in the Superior Court, the child still faces consequences such as fines, loss of license, detention in a state facility (the equivalent of incarceration for adults), and probation. Juvenile law is different from adult criminal law and the potential sentences that can be imposed vary. When your child’s future is at risk based on marijuana related charges in Ocean County, hiring an attorney who is experienced with adjudications and charges pertaining to juveniles can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case. With the intricacies of the juvenile criminal legal system in New Jersey, you want an advocate who will do everything they can to minimize or eliminate the penalties for a juvenile marijuana possession or distribution offense. It is virtually impossible for you to understand the nuances of all that can happen and all that can be done on your son or daughter’s behalf without having any previous experience. Let us at Proetta & Oliver help you present the best possible defense. Our seasoned juvenile defense lawyers frequently appear in Ocean County Superior Court on behalf of minors charged in Brick, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Toms River, Long Beach Island, Lavallette, and other towns at the Jersey Shore. Contact our local office at (848) 238-2100 if you have questions or would like a free consultation about marijuana charges against your child.
Punishments for Juveniles Charged with Marijuana Possession, Distribution, and Paraphernalia Offenses in New Jersey
At the onset of your child’s case, you and your child are required to attend court and your appearance will be required until such time as your case is dismissed, resolved by agreement or sentencing alternative, or tried. Sometimes, there is an agreement that can be made to the satisfaction of all parties and the case is resolved quickly. For example, if your child possesses less than 50 grams of marijuana (a disorderly persons offense) the prosecutor and court may agree to a “deferred disposition.” This is considered a probationary sentence allowing for dismissal once all conditions and stated goals are met. The conditions are often set by the judge and commonly include meeting with your probation officer as directed, obtaining a substance abuse evaluation, attending school, paying fines, and testing negative for all illicit substances. Obtaining a deferred disposition is a great result, as it ensures that the charges will be dismissed once conditions are fulfilled.
If juvenile charges are not dismissed, the young person faces additional penalties. The consequences for juvenile adjudications vary depending on the amount of marijuana possessed and whether the child possessed the drug for individual use, or whether it is believed that they were distributing the substance to others. The potential offenses and punishments for juvenile marijuana offenses include:
Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or paraphernalia, a disorderly persons offense: 6 months in a state facility, probation, $1,000 in fines;
Possession of marijuana more than 50 grams, equivalent of a fourth degree crime: up to one year in a state juvenile correctional center, as much as $25,000 in fines, loss of license, or probation;
Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute or distribution of less than 1 ounce, a fourth degree offense: up to one year in a detention center, fines, loss of license, or probation;
Marijuana possession with intent or distribution of greater than one ounce, a crime of the third degree: up to two years in a detention center, fines, loss of license, or probation and a combination of time in custody;
Possession with intent or distribution of 5-25 pounds, a second degree charge: 3 years in a detention center, detention and probation, substantial fines, and loss of license;
Possession with intent or distribution of more than 25 pounds of marijuana, a first degree crime: up to 4 years in a detention facility, fines of as much as $300,000.
Juvenile offenses are different from adult offenses in that they are not considered criminal convictions when the child is found guilty, but instead known as adjudications of delinquency. If adjudicated delinquent, a young person’s juvenile record will reflect as much.
Can a Juvenile be Arrested and Held in Jail for Marijuana in New Jersey?
Just as an adult can be arrested for marijuana, so too can any child under the age of 18. A police officer making an arrest for possession or distribution of marijuana has the right to take the child into custody. Once at the police station, the officer will often consult with the prosecutor on call at the time of the arrest. In some instances, the prosecutor or officer may recommend that the child be “detained.” If the child is formally taken into custody, he or she will be placed in the county juvenile detention facility associated with the county of arrest. In some cases, the county juvenile detention facility is shared with children who were arrested in other counties as well. In other words, not every county has a detention facility located within the county and the child may be shipped out to another county while the case is pending.
If not released to a parent or guardian, the child must be brought before a family court judge within 24 hours. The judge will review the case and the reason that detention is sought. Often the parents are unprepared without an attorney and the child will then be afforded another hearing within 48 hours. The judge will have the deciding vote and can release your child into your custody or hold the child in the detention facility while the case is pending. If held, the court will have periodic reviews of detention, occurring in 14 days and then every 21 days thereafter.
In juvenile marijuana cases, detention is rare, but if it does happen our juvenile practice attorneys will aggressively advocate for immediate release by arguing factors that we know make a difference at the onset of the case. It is important to do all that we can to have your child released as soon as possible, as studies show that the diversion of children from school to detention facilities as a means of discipline increases the likelihood of transitioning to prison as an adult offender upon attaining the age of majority. This is known as the school to prison pipeline. Since defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and advocates of juveniles are aware of the grave risks associated with incarceration of young people, there is a good chance that your child will not be held and will instead face other punishment if found guilty.
Point Pleasant Juvenile Marijuana Charge Attorneys for Your Child’s Top Defense
The juvenile system is a nuanced set of laws and proceedings best understood by those who have dedicated practices geared toward criminal defense, including the representation of minors. At our Ocean County criminal defense firm, our experienced lawyers have a thorough understanding of the way that the juvenile system works in New Jersey. We will use our wealth of knowledge to minimize the penal exposure your child faces upon adjudication of delinquency, no matter what specific marijuana charge or set of drug charges they face. For example, in the past, we have obtained dismissals through deferred dispositions, successfully argued for rehabilitation in lieu of detention, and demonstrated that learning and growing is fundamental to the nature of being an adolescent. In other cases, we have achieved favorable results by arguing that the police had no right to search the child in the first place or that there is no evidence that the child ever possessed the substance at all. To receive a free consultation regarding your specific juvenile marijuana charge in Stafford Township, Manchester, Jackson, Seaside Park, or another town, and upcoming appearance in Ocean County Juvenile Court, call (848) 238-2100 today. Anytime you need, an attorney at our firm is available to discuss how we can help you and your child get through this difficult time.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.