Seven Clifton High School students are currently facing charges for aggravated assault, among others, after severely beating a 23-year-old man on Tuesday, January 21st.
According to Sergeant Robert Bracken of the Clifton Police Department, the seven alleged assailants, all males between the ages of 15 and 17, were leaving the high school after an early dismissal due to inclement weather. While crossing through traffic on Colfax Avenue at approximately 12 p.m., the boys forced a man to abruptly stop his Jeep Cherokee in order to avoid hitting them, at which time one of the boys punched the driver’s car.
Per reports, the driver followed the group as they continued onto Svea Avenue. When the man excited his vehicle and inquired as to why the boy had punched it, he claims that one of the boys lunged at him. According to police, the victim was assaulted by all of the boys when he attempted to defend himself. He was subsequently hospitalized with broken bones to the face and a broken eye socket, as one of the assailants struck him in the face with a 9-inch piece of concrete during the assault.
As six of the boys fled the scene, the victim was able to restrain one of them until police arrived, at which time the alleged attacker was arrested. The following day, officers from the Clifton Police Department arrested the remaining six accused, each of whom is facing charges for aggravated assault, inciting a riot, and weapons offenses.
All of the boys are being held at the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center in Newark and are due to appear in family court. As a result of their ages, they are all currently being charged as juveniles. However, in cases involving serious charges like aggravated assault, the county prosecutor’s office may attempt to have a juvenile’s charges waived up to adult court.
When deciding whether to waive the juvenile charges to adult court, the judge will consider the nature of the charges, the juvenile’s prior criminal record (if any), and the age of the juvenile. If the individual has a lengthy criminal history, the prosecutor may argue that the rehabilitation focus of juvenile court has not succeeded and that the juvenile needs to be subject to punishment in order to protect the public. In addition, the likelihood of a waiver up to adult court increases with the age of the juvenile facing the charges.
In this case, five of the seven accused have prior criminal histories and some of the boys involved are almost 18 years of age. Both of these factors will increase the probability that the prosecutor’s office will attempt to have them tried as adults. If this, in fact, does occur, those charged will be facing far more serious penalties. For example, aggravated assault charges can carry sentences ranging from 18 months to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, depending on the degree of the charges involved.
It remains to be seen what the prosecutor’s office argues for in each case and whether or not these requests are ultimately granted. What is for certain is that this outcome will spell serious implications for those charged if they are convicted.
For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Parents demand police presence at Clifton High School in wake of after-school beating