News Department

Gov. Murphy signs bill clarifying juveniles’ rights to attorney representation

NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Friday signed A-3117/S-269, which provides juveniles the right to be represented by counsel at every critical stage of a court proceeding.

Critical stages of a court proceeding include all post-dispositional appearances and any interrogation, identification procedure, or other investigative activity involving the juvenile undertaken by law enforcement or prosecutorial personnel subsequent to the filing of the complaint.

“From arrest to deliberation, court proceedings can be a confusing time for a juvenile, especially for those who don’t have the finances to afford an attorney. Cementing their right to counsel throughout the process will give them a chance to better navigate the options available to them,” Murphy said. “Our Administration will continue to prioritize the creation of a stronger and fairer juvenile justice system in New Jersey that better serves all young individuals seeking to rehabilitate their lives.”

“The right to counsel enshrined in the Constitution safeguards legal protections and promotes fair and appropriate outcomes within our justice system,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “This legislation further clarifies the contours of this important right in youth justice proceedings.”

“By guaranteeing the right to counsel of a juvenile being interrogated by police, this legislation is a significant and much needed reform to our system of juvenile justice,” said New Jersey Public Defender Joseph Krakora. “I want to thank Governor Murphy and the Legislature for passing it and prioritizing NJ’s juvenile justice system.”

The prime sponsors of this bill are Senator Shirley Turner and then-Assemblyman, now-Senator Raj Mukherji. Other primary sponsors include Senator Nellie Pou, Assemblyman William Spearman, and Assemblyman Reginald Atkins.

“While juveniles were already entitled to representation, it is our hope that this will help to connect them with an attorney as early as possible in the process,” said Turner. “Kids are especially vulnerable and this will reduce the possibility of them being subject to inappropriate treatment or punishment, and work to prevent any other form of injustice from occurring.”

“Juveniles are inherently vulnerable, which is intensified and sometimes exploited once they enter the criminal justice system,” said Pou. “We must ensure that these young people are afforded the right to legal representation throughout their time within the system. This new law will make sure that right is guaranteed.”

“Young people who face charges need representation by their side,” said Spearman.  “We don’t want juveniles to get into trouble with the law as adults.

“Young people facing criminal charges need support so that they don’t become repeat offenders,” said Atkins. “They need legal guidance to set them on the right path.”

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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