The process by which a judge decides whether a juvenile has committed a delinquent offense. Juveniles who are found guilty are not “convicted of a crime,” they are “adjudicated delinquent.”
An application to take the case to a higher court for a rehearing or a review of the rulings made by the lower court.
Arraignment on Indictment / Arraignment Status Conference
The first appearance made by the defendant before a Superior Court Judge after indictment. The Assistant Prosecutor will advise the defendant of the indictment. The Judge reviews the indictment and discovery with the defendant. The defendant, through his/her attorney, then enters a guilty or not guilty plea to the charges. See Post Indictment Arraignment.
Assistant Prosecutor (AP)
A lawyer employed by the county prosecutor’s office to prosecute cases for the State of New Jersey.
The person who signs the complaint and swears that the information in the complaint is the truth.
The initial document outlining the charges against the defendant. The complaint is signed by a police officer or victim in the municipality where the criminal act occurred.
52:4B-37 As used in this act, victim means a person who suffers personal, physical or psychological injury or death or incurs loss of or injury to personal or real property as a result of a crime committed against that person. “Victim” also includes the nearest relative of the victim of a criminal homicide.
The person who is accused of the crime.
An act committed by a juvenile which if committed by an adult would constitute a:
disorderly persons offense
petty disorderly persons offense
violation of regulation or some municipal ordinances
Detention Review Hearing
If a juvenile is incarcerated, his/her situation is reviewed within 24 hours to determine if he/she should be released or held. If remanded back to detention, the matter is heard again within 48 hours with an attorney.
Written information about the case, including police reports and witness statements, that must be exchanged by the parties prior to the trial.
Once a complaint is issued, defendants are either arrested or issued a summons to appear in Superior Court on a first appearance. At the First Appearance incarcerated defendants can be released subject to conditions set by the court or held without bail because the state is seeking to detain the defendant without bail until trial. First Appearance hearings are held within 24 hours of arrest or issuance of a summons complaint for incarcerated defendants. First appearances are held no more than 60 days after arrest or issuance of a summons for non-incarcerated defendants. At the first hearing in Municipal Court, defendants can enter a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea. If defendants plead “not guilty”, the matter will be scheduled for a trial, within 60 days. A defendant who pleads ‘not guilty’ may plead or be found guilty at a later time.
A 23-person jury that hears evidence presented by an Assistant Prosecutor and the testimony of witnesses, to determine whether or not there is a sufficient basis (probable cause) for a formal charge to be issued, (sufficient evidence) to formally charge (indict) the defendant. The Grand Jury may vote for a (1) True Bill, (2) Remand, or (3) No Bill.
A true bill triggers further proceedings in the Criminal Superior Court. If a majority finds the evidence to be insufficient to indict, the grand jury enters a no bill and the charge(s) are dismissed. The jury may, however, decide to charge the defendant with a less serious offense, to be heard in municipal court. In this instance, the offense has been downgraded or remanded. The accused must appear in municipal court to face a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons charge.
Jury (Petit Jury)
A group of 12 citizens selected at trial to hear evidence relating to the charges and, from that evidence, vote on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime(s) charged.
Individual under 18 years old at the time the offense is committed.
Similar to a sentence in an adult case. Some of the most common dispositions are probation, community service, restitution, mandatory participation in specific treatment programs, incarceration and fines. Please see our full list of Juvenile Disposition.
An application made to the judge, usually before trial, in order to obtain a ruling, order or direction.
The court in the local municipality where disorderly persons offenses and motor vehicle summonses are heard.
A process in which the assistant prosecutor and the defendant, through his/her attorney, attempt to reach a plea agreement in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to some or all of the charges and avoid the need for a trial. Crime victims have the right to consult with the prosecuting authority prior to the conclusion of plea negotiations.
The first plea offer by the assistant prosecutor may be provided to the defense attorney as early as the Pre-Indictment Conference phase.
Defendants who are convicted of crimes may appeal their cases to the Appellate Division of Superior Court, which reviews trial records and decides if decisions made by Judges in the Superior Court are fair and equitable. Defendants may file motions, or requests to their sentencing Judge to have sentences modified, or for other relief.
Post Indictment Arraignment
The first appearance made by the defendant before a Superior Court Judge after indictment. The assistant prosecutor will advise the defendant of the indictment. The judge reviews the indictment and discovery with the defendant and the defendant, through his/her attorney, then enters a guilty or not guilty plea to the charges.
This hearing is scheduled 45 days from the time of the First Appearance. The hearing is an opportunity for Assistant Prosecutor to discuss with the defense attorney any pre-indictment dispositions (plea resolution). At this hearing the Judge will inform the defendant that there is a drug court program and how an application may be made.
Criminal Division case supervisors perform pre-sentence investigations for criminal Judges who render sentences on all convicted defendants. The pre-sentence investigation report is designed to assist a Judge in weighing the circumstances of the crime and a defendant’s criminal and juvenile record and overall life situation to the severity of the sentence.
The court will schedule this after discovery is complete, motions have been decided and all reasonable efforts to dispose of the case without trial have been made. This is the phase where a date for trial will be set.
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is a diversionary program which permits certain defendants, generally first-time offenders, with opportunities for alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process to avoid formal prosecution and conviction by entering into a term of court supervised community living, often with counseling or other support. PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior. Crime victims will be advised of a defendant’s application to PTI and will be given the opportunity to provide their input to the assigned Assistant Prosecutor.
A sentencing alternative, imposed by the judge which allows the defendant to remain free under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.
A lawyer employed by the State of New Jersey to represent indigent defendants of a crime.
The Grand Jury sends the case to municipal court for prosecution.
As part of a sentence (or disposition for a juvenile) the judge might order the offender to repay the victim or the victim’s family for expenses related to the crime. This repayment is called restitution.
A civil document obtained by victims of domestic violence which prohibits contact between the parties for the purpose of protecting the victim from further abuse.
Risk Screening Tool
Mechanism utilized by Family Courts to determine which charged juveniles are placed in detention or placed in alternative custody based upon objective, standardized criteria.
The sentencing hearing is the disposition/punishment phase of the criminal matter before a Superior Court Judge. A sentence can include prison, probation, restitution, community service, mental health counseling, fine & penalties or any combination of these. This is the hearing where a victim has the opportunity to submit a written and/or oral victim impact statement to the sentencing judge.
There are two status conference hearings, with the possible exception of a third conference at the Judge’s discretion. The first status conference is called the Initial Case Disposition Conference; the second conference is called the Final Case Disposition Conference and the third, the Discretionary Case Disposition Conference. These hearings are public hearings where the defendant with his/her attorney and an Assistant Prosecutor appear before a Superior Court Judge.
Vision Impact Statement
A statement, written and/or oral made by the victim describing his/her feelings about the incident, how the crime has affected his/her life and what he/she thinks the offender’s sentence should be.