How to Protect a Minor Charged With Vandalism

Friday, December 13th, 2013

When a minor is caught in the act of vandalism, it can be brushed under the rug as “kids being kids,” but consequences can be severe. If your child has been charged with vandalism, they can be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Of course, this depends on how much damage was caused. But, before we move on, what exactly is considered vandalism?

I’m glad you asked. This can be defacing a property—car, house, school, building, or public space—destroying the property of a library, either books or videos, egging or throwing stones at building or houses, destroying gravestones, publicly displaying art like graffiti that is defacing to the property, or even smashing mailboxes on a joy ride.

Teenagers are known for taking part in activities without weighing the pros and cons of the situation. Keying a car is the perfect example of vandalism done by today’s youth that occurs without thinking of possible repercussions. Even an act as simple as creating and displaying art in public places—graffiti—can result in a vandalism charge. Often times, a juvenile will lash out in an act of defiance against a school, property, or building, defacing it and putting their future in limbo.

Not only will those charged with vandalism have to pay for the damages they caused, if not more, but they are expected to appear in court as well. This is where the protection aspect comes in and the wheels are set in motion to ensure your future is still intact without having to check the “criminal record” box, providing a brief explanation on college and job applications. In these tough economic times, the job availability is scarce and with the competition, employers will skip right over the resume with a criminal record.

If properly represented in New Jersey, your child can be issued a Pretrial Intervention Program. This will allow a minor’s record to be wiped clean of the vandalism offense after their probation is served. This can be obtained for first time offenders much easier than it could be for a repeat offender.

We can help you or your child with a vandalism case, guiding you through the legal process and protecting your future.

Juvenile Cyber Crimes

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Cyber crimes committed by our youth are increasing at an alarming rate.  Is this really a surprise?  Many kids have their own computers, touch screen tablets, and mp3 players all in the comfort of their own room.   As with anything in life, the more you use something, the more intelligent you become with it.  Some examples of juvenile cyber crimes include computer hacking, stealing online music, online bullying, online harassing, and viewing online pornography.

Downloading online music without purchasing it is known as Piracy.  Piracy can also include videos, software, and DVD’s.  Piracy has hurt music industry sales over the years; however, online music sales have been increasing again thanks to legal streaming music sites.  Another major problem we have as a nation is dealing with is online hacking.  An example of online hacking is when someone (other than yourself) gains access to another person’s personal information without his or her consent.  This information can include name, address, phone number, social security number, and credit card information.  It is often used for identity theft or credit card fraud.  One more example of a juvenile cyber crime is online bullying or harassing.  This has become a major issue over the past few years and has lead to countless sad endings.  With the use of emails, social media, and texting, teenagers (and even younger) have the ability to embarrass, torment, and threaten other kids.  What makes cyber bullying often times more hurtful than face-to-face bullying is that with a touch of a button, hundreds (or millions) of people online can view embarrassing information or pictures of someone.  And once that information is out there, it can’t be taken back.

Any of the juvenile cyber crimes mentioned above are a serious threat and need to be dealt with legally.  Keeping a closer eye on your teenager and monitoring their online use will undoubtedly decrease their chances of becoming involved in any type of juvenile cyber crime.

 

New Jersey Crimes Eligible for Expungement

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Certain criminal convictions are eligible for an expungement in New Jersey. In addition to determining the crimes which are eligible, it is equally important to determine the length of the waiting period from the date of your conviction to the date upon which you are eligible to file a petition for expungement You should have your criminal record expunged because background checks are now the norm. Many employers and educational institutions place a stigma on any person who has been arrested or convicted of a crime. It can also affect your employment opportunities, professional licensing boards and college applications. An expungement of your New Jersey record will prevent an employer from accessing your criminal record and allow you to lawfully answer “no” on an employment application.

Crimes which are Eligible for Expungement

In order to have your record cleared, you must first look at whether or not you are eligible to have the criminal conviction expunged.

Convictions for the following crimes are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey:

.Criminal Homicide (exception Vehicular Homicide)

.Kidnapping

.Luring or Enticing

.Aggravated Sexual Assault

.Criminal Sexual Contact if the victim is a minor

.Criminal Restraint

.Robbery

.Endangering the Welfare of a Child (if based on sexual contact or child pornography)

.False imprisonment

.Perjury

.False Swearing

.Distribution of Controlled Dangerous Substance or Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substances with Intent to Distribute

.Motor vehicle violations, DWI or DUI.

Waiting Period for Expungements

The following information is general eligibility requirements for an expungement and the waiting periods for filing a petition for expungement in New Jersey.

TYPE OF CONVICTION AND  TIME ELAPSED SINCE CONVICTION

Indictable two or more convictions – 10 years waiting period from completion of sentence

Disorderly Persons (up to 3 disorderly) – 5 years waiting period from completion of sentence

Petty Disorderly Persons – 5 years waiting period from completion of sentence

Municipal Ordinances – 2 years waiting period from completion of sentence

Juvenile Delinquency – 5 years waiting period from completion of supervision

Possession of CDS <21 years of age – 1 year period from completion of sentence

Arrests not resulting in Convictions – Immediately

Conditional Discharges/Pretrial Invention – 6 months

Length of Time Before Expungement is Complete

The expungement motion should be scheduled for 30 to 60 days from the filing of the expungement petition. Keep in mind that each county is slightly different as far as the time it takes to get your case listed on the expungement calendar.

Information Needed to Get Started

In order for an attorney to file your New Jersey expungement petition, specific information about the offense must be obtained. Such as summons or complaint number, arresting agency, criminal charge and corresponding statutory number, arrest date, and disposition. Without this information, the expungement cannot be appropriately filed or granted.

 

 

Reckless Driving

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Reckless driving is defined as a moving violation in which a driver displays a disregard for the rules of the road. In essence, reckless drivers put themselves and others at risk, and they often involve more than one traffic violation. Reckless driving offenders are punished by fines, jail time, and/or driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Disregard for the safety of people or property is a common element in reckless driving car accidents. Reckless driving acts include, but are not limited to, the following situations:

.Causing an automobile accident

.Running red lights

.Distracted driving

.Running stop signs

.Drinking and driving

.Speeding

.Driving under the influence of drugs

.Suddenly braking

.Driving without headlights

.Tailgating

High Rate of Speeding

While speeding alone isn’t usually considered reckless driving, an extremely high rate of speed might lead an officer to charge someone with reckless driving.

Alcohol and Drugs Also Lead to Reckless Driving

Everyone that gets behind the wheel knowing that they are drunk or impaired are by definition reckless drivers. According to the courts, reckless driving and DUI offenses are separate crimes, and drivers may sometimes be charged with both crimes.

Most car accidents can be prevented by following these simple tips:

.Always wear a seatbelt

.Avoid distractions caused by passengers, cell phones, food, or loud music

.Don’t speed

.Obey all traffic signs

.And try not to drive when tired.

Not every automobile accident can be prevented, but you can control whether or not you cause a serious car crash.

The penalties for Reckless Driving in New Jersey are as follows:

.Jail of up to 2 Months (3 months for a 2nd offense)

.Fines of 50-$200. (Up to $500 for a Second Offense)

.5 Points on your Driving Record

The penalties for Careless Driving are:

.Fines

.2 Points on your Driving Record

Juvenile Use of Weapons

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Our schools, a place of safety, learning, and growth, are being challenged daily by violent acts, including:  homicide, assaults, child sexual abuse, and violence affecting teachers, parents, children, and the whole community.  Victims of violent crimes may suffer physical, social, and emotional withdrawal from peer and family relations and become more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. These traumatic experiences further contribute to their lack of effective learning, growth, and development. Today, the major problems in our schools are the use of firearms, weapons, substance abuse, and gangs. Such acts of violence occur not only in large urban areas, but also suburban and rural schools including both public and private schools. In 2004, students ages 12 to 18 were victims of 107,400 serious violent crimes at school (U.S. Department of Justice, 2006.) In 2005, 8% of students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property, and only 55% of high-school students felt safe at school.

The use of guns in schools has increased to the point that approximately one in four major school districts now uses metal detectors to reduce the number of weapons brought into schools by students. Juvenile offenders arrested for weapons violations are sometimes fellow students, and non-student peers who threaten and attack students, administrators, and teachers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1995 nearly one-fourth of students nationwide had carried a gun to school. In 1997, 4,205 children and teens died as a result of gunfire – one every two hours, nearly 12 every day. Gun violence among juveniles further causes countless injuries and disabilities.

The Crime Control Act of 1990 was passed by Congress in an effort to regain control of schools in the United States. The Act prohibits possession or discharge of a firearm on or within 1,000 feet of private, parochial, or public school grounds. Violators can face up to five years imprisonment, a fine of no more than $250,000, or both. As of 1996, fifteen states including New Jersey have passed laws making adults criminally liable for shootings committed by children who have access to the weapons. A maximum of three years in prison can result for a fatal shooting that occurs in this type of situation.

Any juvenile charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in New Jersey is subject to a Fourth Degree crime.  Furthermore, a juvenile charged with delinquency for weapon possession must face a retention hearing where the court may decide to hold the juvenile in detention pending the outcome of the case. If the juvenile was also in Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes, he faces an enhanced charge involving a Second Degree crime. If the firearm was brought into a school, then the charge is a Third Degree offense. A juvenile being charged with a Third Degree, and even Second Degree crime, can face a lengthy incarceration time or additional consequences if convicted.

Juvenile Law—Kids and Drugs

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Juvenile crimes can be either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the brutality of the offense.  In a lot of cases, particularly those concerning violence, sexual felonies, crimes on a campus, or other factors such as:  gang developments or exploit of weapons, the juvenile offender will be charged as an adult and subject to adult penalties.

Kids and Drugs Just Don’t Mix

This thought applies to a juvenile whether or not he or she finds his or herself in a child welfare action in juvenile court.  There is an assumption that if you are a parent who uses drugs and has minor children—you are in fact, neglecting them and instigating possible drug use in the child’s future.  The best thing a parent should do is immediately inquire about substance abuse treatment.  It is hypothetically possible that a parent can use drugs and not disregard their child, but the burden of proof to refute that assumption is very high.  The argument that illicit drug use does not impair a parent’s parenting ability is nearly impossible to win.  It may not be impossible, but there are circumstances where a court would not find it to be so.  Avoid your child’s possible stay in a Juvenile correctional facility due to drugs by seeking treatment today.