The term “juvenile delinquent” is used in New Jersey to describe people under the age of 18 who have committed a crime. Depending on the case, it can be heard in municipal court or in family court. The primary objective is for the juvenile to understand what they have done wrong and learn from their mistakes.
After the case has been resolved, there can still be obstacles to overcome. The criminal record can be a negative mark on them as they try to move forward in life. This is when it could be beneficial to try and get an expungement.
What does the law say about expungements for juvenile delinquents?
According to the law for juvenile delinquency, expungements can be granted in cases where the act they committed while a juvenile would have been a crime had an adult committed it. Also, if it was a crime that would have been a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense had an adult committed it or would have been an ordinance violation had an adult committed it, it can be expunged. An example of a disorderly persons offense is shoplifting of items worth less than $200.
There are other circumstances under which an expungement can be granted to a juvenile delinquent. After the person has been released from custody or from supervision and three years have passed and there is no supervision after the fact, they can get an expungement. In those three years, they cannot be convicted of a crime, disorderly offense or again be deemed a juvenile delinquent who needs supervision.
There can also be an expungement if they were not categorized as a juvenile delinquent and it was an act that, had an adult committed it, would not be expunged; they never had an adult conviction that was expunged; and they never had adult charges dismissed after taking part in some form of treatment or diversion.
To get an expungement for underage missteps, having legal assistance can be key
Teens often make mistakes and violate the law. If it is serious enough, they can be arrested for it. In many instances, it is something that could be chalked up to a young person making a youthful transgression like committing vandalism, low-level theft or even getting into a fight.
Being labeled a juvenile delinquent and needing to face the consequences is part of the process, but that does not mean it should follow them around forever. For those who are hoping to receive an expungement, it is wise to consult with criminal defense professionals who know the necessary steps.