New Jersey has made it an independent by itself to use a minor as an accomplice or in furtherance of a crime. The crime of using a minor is completely separate from any charges you face for the crime you committed (ie. Shoplifting, Distribution of Marijuana, or Theft). New Jersey wants to protect innocent children and minors from be coerced into committing crimes for family members and friends and therefore this state makes it a serious felony crime. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between a conviction or a diversion program and prison or probation. At Proetta & Oliver we have defended clients against thousands of criminal charges in New Jersey including use of minor to commit a crime. We represent clients throughout Union County and surrounding areas including Linden, Cranford, Union Township, Elizabeth, Rahway, Hillside, and Westfield. If you would like to learn more information about how we can help you with your charges, then contact our office at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal attorney.
Use of a 17 Year Old or Younger to Commit a Criminal Offense
2C:24-9. Use of a 17-Year-Old or Younger to Commit a Criminal Offense
1. a. Except as provided in P.L.1991, c.81 (C.2C:20-17) and N.J.S.2C:35-6, any person who is at least 18 years of age who knowingly uses, solicits, directs, hires, employs or conspires with a person who is in fact 17 years of age or younger to commit a criminal offense is guilty of a crime.
b. An offense under this section constitutes a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense is a disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, an offense under this section shall be classified one degree higher than the underlying offense.
c. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8, a conviction under this section shall not merge with a conviction for the underlying offense. Nor shall a conviction for the underlying offense merge with a conviction under this section. Nothing contained in this act shall prohibit the court from imposing an extended term of imprisonment pursuant to 2C:43-7; nor shall this be construed to preclude or limit a prosecution or conviction of any person for conspiracy under N.J.S.2C:5-2, or any prosecution or conviction for any offense.
d. It shall be no defense to a prosecution under this act that the actor mistakenly believed that the person which the actor used, solicited, directed, hired or employed was 18 years of age or older, even if such mistaken belief was reasonable.
Grading the Severity of Offense: Use of Minor to Commit a Crime
As illustrated in the above statute, a charge for using a 17 year old or younger to commit a crime and get very seriously very quickly. This is because the crime is upgraded to one degree higher on the underlying crime. For example, we commonly represent clients who attempt to shoplift by putting the stolen items in the baby carriage or having a small child carry them out. If the amount of merchandise is over $500.00 then it is a 3rd degree shoplifting plus the additional charge of using a minor to commit the crime which would then be upgraded to a 2nd degree crime. A second degree crime carries the presumption of incarceration with a range of 5 – 10 years in prison for even a first time offender. Examples like this can easily happen and this is why these charges should never be taken lightly. As criminal defense lawyers we are experienced in handling and successfully resolving charges of using a minor to commit a crime. To learn more about how our representation works, contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with a defense attorney who will answer your questions and address your concerns.