Can My Juvenile Record be Used as a Risk-Assessment for Pretrial Detention?

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

A defendant’s juvenile record is not considered as part of the new automated risk-assessment as part of the Bail Reform Act (the “Act”). However, Section 20 of the Act broadly authorizes the trial court to consider a defendant’s “past conduct” as one of the many permissible factors in evaluating his or her suitability for pretrial release. N.J.S.A. 2A:162-20(c)(1).

A defendant’s prior adjudications of delinquency and the nature of his or her juvenile offenses are logically part of his or her “history and characteristics” and indicative of the danger he or she poses to the community under N.J.S.A. 2A:162-20(c) and (d).

A defendant’s prior history of juvenile delinquency and probation violations is a permissible – and at times especially significant – consideration in the detention analysis. Such consideration of a defendant’s juvenile record is authorized by the Act, as it is logically subsumed within the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:162-20(c)(1).

Therefore, a juvenile record can be absolutely used when assessing whether pretrial detention is appropriate, even though it is not numerically used in the automated risk-assessment.

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