The Juvenile Unit of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office prosecutes juvenile delinquency cases in the Family Part of the Chancery Division of Superior Court. The overarching goal of the juvenile justice system in New Jersey is to rehabilitate youth while still doing the utmost to protect the community, ultimately helping young people enter adulthood less likely to break the law.
In cases where juvenile offenders engage in mild delinquency, the Juvenile Unit has the discretion to divert the case away from formal court proceedings and towards social or familial support. Assistant Prosecutors, law enforcement, and social service providers work together to evaluate each juvenile individually, offering diversionary options so long as the diversion promotes accountability, advances the juvenile’s rehabilitation, and protects the community. Whenever possible, the Juvenile Unit also strives to engage victims in the diversionary process.
Juveniles committing serious acts of delinquency are charged on formal complaints and may be detained at a juvenile detention center pending court action. Dispositions on the formal calendar can range from community-based programs to commitment to the Juvenile Justice Commission.
The Chief of the Juvenile Unit serves as legal advisor for all juvenile matters throughout Bergen County. The Juvenile Unit’s investigative staff performs traditional functions including interviewing witnesses, sending out subpoenas, and maintaining the Unit’s records. All juvenile records are strictly confidential and not available for inspection by the general public. The Juvenile Unit also works closely with the Prosecutor’s Office’s Victim-Witness Unit to ensure that victims are dealt with fairly and compassionately during their court involvement.