Generally, criminal suspects that are juveniles are treated differently than adult offenders by the criminal justice system and are afforded greater rights. In some instances in which a crime allegedly committed by a minor is egregious, however, the State may move for a waiver that would allow the minor to be prosecuted as an adult. In a recent case, a New Jersey appellate court discussed the appropriate procedures for determining whether a juvenile that is charged with a grave crime should be waived to the Criminal Part and tried as an adult. If you or your child are accused of committing a crime, it is critical to understand your rights, and you should speak with a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, the defendant was accused of sexually assaulting a five-year-old boy. The defendant, who was seventeen at the time the offense was reportedly committed, suffered from intellectual disabilities, which an expert psychiatrist stated resulted in the defendant’s intellectual age being the same as that of a thirteen-year-old child. The State requested that the defendant be waived to the Criminal Part due to the serious nature of his offenses. The trial court granted the waiver, and the defendant appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.
Evaluating Whether a Juvenile Defendant Should be Waived to the Criminal Part
Under New Jersey’s revised waiver statute, the minimum age for an offender to be eligible for waiver is fifteen. Additionally, a waiver motion must be accompanied by a written statement of reasons that explicitly explains the facts used to assess the waiver factors enumerated under the statute, along with an explanation of how the evaluation of those facts supports a waiver for the juvenile in question.