State v. J.V.

Seventeen-year-old J.V. attempted to take a man’s cellphone and, during the ensuing struggle, stabbed the victim nine times. The police charged J.V. with acts of delinquency which, if committed by an adult, would have constituted attempted murder, armed robbery, and weapons offenses. The State filed a motion to transfer jurisdiction from the Superior Court’s Family Part to the Criminal Part to try J.V. as an adult under the then-existing but now repealed, juvenile waiver statute. After conducting the waiver hearing, the Family Part judge granted the State’s motion to transfer jurisdiction. Once in adult court, J.V. entered guilty pleas to attempted murder and armed robbery and the State agreed to recommend concurrent eighteen-year prison terms, subject to the No Early Release Act.


One year later, the NJ Legislature repealed and replaced the juvenile waiver statute with one which mandated the consideration of supplemental factors. J.V. appealed, arguing that the new waiver statute should apply to him retroactively because of the ameliorative nature of the new statute and that he, therefore, was entitled to a new waiver hearing. The Appellate Division agreed and remanded for a new waiver hearing. The Supreme Court disagreed and reversed the Appellate Division.

The Court held that the language of the new waiver statute was plain and unambiguous. It became effective years after J.V. was waived to adult court. The Court concluded the Legislature intended the statute to apply prospectively to those juvenile waiver hearings conducted after the statute became effective. 

J.V.