Over the past few years, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violates Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. A majority of the justices has ruled that mandatory life sentencing schemes that do not allow the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders stand in the way of judges or juries considering mitigating factors. The court, however, did not bar life sentences for juvenile offenders per se.
Generally, the New Jersey juvenile justice system is designed to give juvenile offenders the opportunity for rehabilitation if found delinquent in juvenile court. However, prosecutors may waive specific cases to adult court and charge the juvenile as an adult. Juveniles can face serious consequences when charged with a violation of the law.