Unless a prosecutor obtains a judge’s approval to move the case to criminal court, charges against minors are handled through juvenile court proceedings that are closed to the public. These proceedings can still result in a juvenile record, which can follow a young person into adulthood.

A recent SUV accident in Northern New Jersey is a sad reminder of what is at stake when juveniles are charged with serious offenses. A 17-year-old probationary driver is accused of vehicular homicide in connection with a crash that took the life of her best friend. The charge was filed in juvenile court, and it remains to be seen whether the prosecutor will seek to change the case to adult status.

Police claim the 17-year-old girl was speeding and driving recklessly when the accident happened. The SUV reportedly slid and rolled when it came to a curve in the road. The driver’s 18-year-old friend, who police say wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle. She suffered injuries to her head and was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital.

The 18-year-old’s younger brother was also in the SUV, and he and the driver reportedly climbed out after the crash and were taken to a hospital for evaluation.

The prosecutor said the investigation is ongoing.

No matter the nature of the charge, delinquency offenses must be carefully handled to resolve the matter in the most favorable way possible. In the event that their child has been charged with a juvenile offense, parents should not hesitate to seek advice from a criminal defense attorney with experience in handling juvenile cases.

To learn more, please see our juvenile crimes overview.